Support Groups Can Double Cancer Survival Rates

Breast cancer patients with social support live twice as long as those without it. Learn more how cancer support groups help.

Research to study effectiveness of support groups

In 1989, Dr. David Spiegel discovered that among breast cancer patients, women who received social support lived twice as long as the women who did not.

In his landmark clinical study, David Spiegel, M.D. at Stanford University’s School of Medicine (USA) demonstrated the power of social relationships to support healing.

Of 86 women with late-stage breast cancer, half received standard medical care while the other half received standard care plus weekly support sessions.

Research findings

In these sessions, the women were able to share both their grief and their triumphs.The results, as mentioned above, were remarkable.

A similar clinical study in 1999 at the University of Maryland Medical Center (USA), showed that in breast cancer patients, the emotions of ‘helplessness’ and ‘hopelessness’ are associated with lower survival rates.

Reflection

  • Cancer is always a difficult experience. How often and how intensely do you feel ‘helpless’ and/or ‘hopeless’, as against feeling ‘in-charge’ and/or ‘hopeful’?
  • How large (and close) is your network of relatives, friends and well-wishers?
  • What kind of social support do you receive; How comfortable are you asking for it?
  • Is there a support group in your area and have you contacted them? If there isn’t, would you like to start one?

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