Does Mood Affect Cancer Diagnosis And Treatment?

In my book, The Layman’s Guide to Surviving Cancer (in the subchapter entitled Be Up, So You Won’t Go Down For The Count), I discuss how depression may affect the chances for surviving cancer, both because mood can affect the body’s physical reactions to the disease and treatment but also because patients with a better, more optimistic mental attitude are more likely to pursue and follow their treatment plans.

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology indicates that depression among prostate cancer patients may affect how often they go for screening, how aggressive they choose to be in treating their disease and overall mortality.  The study followed 40,000 patients, almost 2000 of whom were diagnosed with depression, and determined that depressed subjects were more likely to have aggressive cancer, less likely to undergo the recommended treatment for their stage and type of disease and more likely to die as a result of their cancer.

While it may be difficult in the face of cancer to maintain a positive attitude and avoid depressive feelings, we need to do our very best and take steps designed to do so, to aid in our recovery and help maintain our own morale and that of the loved ones who see us through our battle.  You can read about this recent study at

In healing,




  1. Deb Lewis says

    More easily said than done. Difficult to be diagnosed with cancer and maintain a positive attitude. I think that this is a process, just like stages of grief, and it takes everyone a different amount of time to adjust and be able to push forward. Great topic… Glad you addressed it!

    • Hbressler says

      Deb, I certainly agree that this is a person by person issue; each person may react differently or take a certain amount of time to come to the realization that their mood affects their health (and may not have an immediate ability to channel things in a way that allows them to improve their mood). These things can take work and persistence of mind. Thanks! Howard

  2. Louis Roccanova says

    Thank you Howard for addressing the importance of the affects of mood on not only surviving cancer, but on health in general.

    • Hbressler says

      Thanks Lou. I have long known of the connection between mood and health, and each study that addresses the link seems to find some positive association, either direct physical benefits or improved attitude toward treatment.