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Cancer support groups provide a setting in which cancer patients can talk about living with cancer with others who may be having similar experiences. Much of the sociological construction of these groups are similar to other kinds of other types of support groups.
Providing emotional support Edit
Apart from having to cope with the physical and medical challenges, people with cancer face many worries, feelings, and concerns unique to their situation. Cancer patients may find they need help coping with the emotional as well as the practical aspects of their disease. In fact, attention to the emotional burden of having cancer is often a part of a patient's treatment plan. The support of the health care team (doctors, nurses, social workers), support groups, and patient-to-patient networks can help people feel less isolated and distressed, and improve the quality of their lives. Cancer support groups provide a setting in which cancer patients can talk about living with cancer with others who may be having similar experiences. Patients may want to speak to a member of their health care team about finding a support group. Many also find useful information in NCI fact sheets and booklets, including "Taking Time and Facing Forward".
Apart from various improvements in confidence, wellbeing, stress, and interpersonal comfort, cancer support groups are being studied for their direct effects on improving health of people who attend them. Some small-scale tests have compared members of a breast cancer support group at Stanford against a control group and found significant benefits associated with group membership. These studies are currently being repeated on a larger scale. Some theories about these benefits ascribe heath improvements to reduced stress from talking about emotional issues, the placebo effect, learning about treatment options through interaction with others with common issues.
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