The prospect of developing cancer is not a pleasant one, and to some degree, the vast majority of people are fearful that it might happen to them. This is a perfectly natural fear, and one that is well justified. However, when that fear becomes obsessive and excessive, it may be time to start considering treatment.
Carcinophobia is the name given to the extreme fear of cancer. Derived from the Greek word Carcino, meaning cancer, it’s a very real condition, affecting thousands of people around the world. To them, the fear of cancer consumes them, and can have a huge impact on their lives.
The phobia was more widespread in the 1970s and 80s, when less was known about cancer and cures were less frequent. With more information available, the number of sufferers has appeared to have dropped in recent years. However, Carcinophobia still affects a great many people, and can in turn lead to other physical and psychological problems
CAUSES OF CARCINOPHOBIA
One of the most common causes of Carcinophobia is for the sufferer to have had a close encounter with cancer previously. They may have suffered it themselves at some point in life, and fear ever going through anything like it again. This is a particularly common reaction in child cancer survivors, who grow up to have an absolute terror of the illness that caused them so much pain in the past.
Alternatively, the Carcinophobe may have witnessed someone close to them suffering from cancer, or even dying from it. To see someone close to you in great pain, and becoming weaker, can have a huge emotional impact on you.
Social conditioning can also lead to Carcinophobia. In the media, there are often reports of scientists discovering new links to cancer. Often, these links are very commonplace, such as tomatoes. In some people, the sheer proximity and abundance of carcinogens can lead to Carcinophobia.
Additionally, movies and TV shows often depict cancer as a hugely painful and deadly illness. Again, in some people, the association sinks in, and the fear is hard to shake off. Sufferers, particularly children, may learn to fear cancer from those around them. The child whose parents are Carcinophobes is likely to mimic their fear and develop Carcinophobia as well.
SYMPTOMS OF CARCINOPHOBIA
While most of us worry that we might develop cancer, we don’t fixate on the idea. Carcinophobes on the other hand, do. Their fear becomes all-consuming in extreme cases, leading to several more complex issues. Simply discussing, or thinking about cancer can bring on severe anxiety attacks; raised heartbeat, hot or cold flushes, profuse sweating, nausea, dizziness, the feeling of hopelessness and a desire to get away.
Carcinophobes will often do all they can to avoid developing cancer. This can include being obsessive about food and drink, and avoiding anything that is known to cause cancer. In more severe cases, sufferers may not leave the house at all, for fear of coming into contact with carcinogens. This can lead to isolation and depression.
Sufferers may also exhibit signs of hypochondria, and obsess over their health. Frequent visits to the doctor to check each and every bump or bruise, or anything remotely abnormal, are not uncommon. In other cases, they may avoid the doctor all together, for fear that they’ll be diagnosed with cancer. This can lead to the development of other phobias, such as the fear of hospitals, doctors or germs.
It’s possible to treat Carcinophobia using a variety of techniques. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy are all good options. While they work in different ways, the result is often the same. They aim to remove the negativity in your mind, and replace it with more realistic, positive thinking.
In this way, the therapist is effectively able to turn your fear around, allowing you to think about cancer more logically. Relaxation techniques, in conjunction with Talk therapy can also have fantastic results. The patient will learn how to deal with panic attacks, before facing their fear in a calm and collected manner.
In today’s digital world, there are even apps or audio therapy sessions such as subliminals you can download to help rid you of your phobia.
BENEFITS OF OVERCOMING FEAR OF CANCER
You can never turn cancer into something positive; it is a painful, and sometimes deadly illness. However, obsessing over it won’t help you avoid cancer, or fight it. Staying healthy – regardless of whether you have cancer or not – starts with a positive outlook. Many cancer patients have recovered against all odds because of their positive mindset.
By overcoming the fear of cancer, the patient can begin to look at the world more positively. Instead of seeing carcinogens everywhere they look, they will see the things that really matter. Life will suddenly feel stress free without the constant niggling at the back of your mind, and new and exciting opportunities will soon present themselves.