As a cancer survivor, you may find that the physical, emotional and social effects have taken a toll on your psyche. Though there's no evidence that managing stress improves chances of cancer survival, using effective coping strategies to deal with stress can greatly improve your quality of life by helping relieve depression, anxiety, and symptoms related to the cancer and its treatment.
Effective stress management strategies may include:
- Relaxation or meditation techniques, such as mindfulness training
- Cancer support groups
- Medications for depression or anxiety
- Interacting with friends and family
Stop using tobacco
Kick the habit once and for all. Smoking or using chewing tobacco puts you at risk of several types of cancer. Stopping now could reduce your risk of cancer recurrence and also lower your risk of developing a second type of cancer (second primary cancer).
If you've tried quitting in the past but haven't had much success, seek help. Talk to your doctor about resources to help you quit.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
Alcohol does have health benefits in some people — for instance, consuming a drink a day can reduce your risk of heart disease. But it also increases the risk of certain cancers, including those of the mouth and throat.
While it isn't clear whether drinking alcohol can cause cancer recurrence, it can increase your risk of a second primary cancer.
Weigh the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol and talk it over with your doctor.
Do what you can
While you may worry that it will take an entire overhaul of your lifestyle to achieve all these goals, do what you can and make changes slowly. Easing into a healthy diet or regular exercise routine can make it more likely that you'll stick with these changes for the rest of your life.
Oct. 10, 2017
See more In-depth
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- Rock CL, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2012;62:242.
- Long-term side effects of cancer treatment. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/survivorship/long-term-side-effects-cancer-treatment. Accessed July 22, 2017.
- Kushi LH, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: Reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2012;62:30.
- Survivorship. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed July 13, 2017.
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- Psychological stress and cancer. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/stress-fact-sheet. Accessed Aug. 27, 2017.
- Redeker NS, et al. Incorporating measures of sleep quality into cancer studies. Support Care Cancer. 2015;23:1145.
- Sleep disorders (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/sleep-disorders-pdq#section/all. Accessed Aug. 28, 2017.
- Tips for getting a good night's sleep. National Institutes of Health. https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/summer12/articles/summer12pg20.html. Accessed Sept. 28, 2017.