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Attitude Doesn't Affect Cancer Survival

Optimism Doesn't Extend Life, but Can Improve Its Quality After Diagnosis

Positive Attitude: 'An Additional Burden' continued...

Still, at least one expert tells WebMD that cancer patients should try to stay upbeat.

"Being optimistic may not have any impact on the length of life, but it certainly has an impact on the quality of life," says Ann Webster, PhD, director of the cancer program at the Mind/Body Medical Institute run by Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

"If you are optimistic and hopeful and have that fighting spirit, you will go through the whole cancer experience in a much better way than if you are depressed and hopeless. I don't think anyone has ever promised that attitude will cure cancer. What we say is that it may enable you to cope better and to feel better."

SOURCES: Schofield, P, Cancer, published online Feb. 9, 2004; in print March 15, 2004. Petticrew, M, British Medical Journal, Nov. 7, 2002; vol 325; pp 1066-1069. Jimmie Holland, MD, Wayne Chapman chair of psychiatric oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York; cofounder, International Psycho-Oncology Society. Herman Eyre, MD, chief medical officer, the American Cancer Society, Atlanta. Ann Webster, PhD, health psychologist and director, cancer program, Mind/Body Medical Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

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