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Breast cancer: fighters become survivors

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Researchers investigating breast cancer survivors have discovered that a 'fighting spirit' can positively influence the outcome

Researchers investigating breast cancer survivors have discovered that a 'fighting spirit' can positively influence the outcome.

In a study of 578 women, researchers at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London found that, after five years, 395 of the women were alive and well without relapse, while 50 were alive with relapse and 133 had died. A significantly increased risk of relapse or death occurred in those women whose psychological profiles revealed a high rate of helplessness, hopelessness and depression, while those who felt hopeful and empowered tended to have the best prognosis.

Scientists rarely evaluate the role of personality type and emotions in the recovery from serious illness. However, these results add to a growing body of opinion which holds that there is a tangible link between emotional states, such as depression, and immunosupression (Lancet, 1999; 354: 1331-6).


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