The effects of cancer aren’t simply physical: Hear from our expert Psychologists at the Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic on the psychological support available for people affected by cancer.

Cancer awareness has been brought to the fore of the national consciousness over the past month. Every single day, 1000 people in the UK are told that they have a diagnosis of cancer[1] so tackling this condition is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a nation.

At FPC, we know that receiving a cancer diagnosis can be an immensely difficult time for people and their loved ones. Coping with the shock of a diagnosis can be incredibly challenging alongside possible symptoms arising from the illness itself and potential side effects from the treatment. It is very common for people to find it difficult to adjust and to struggle with low mood, anxiety and other forms of psychological distress. When emotional difficulties continue or start to arise during treatment and even into recovery, it can have a considerable impact on a person’s daily functioning and quality of life. Worrying about recurrence of cancer is also very common, as almost three quarters of cancer survivors worry about this and half to a degree that it significantly impacts their everyday life[2]. Similarly, for people who have been told that the cancer is not curable but is stable, fear of progression is a common concern. Worrying that the cancer might come back or that it could progress is completely normal, but these worries can become all-consuming and stop people from moving forward with life in the way that they would like to.

Thankfully there is a wide range of support available from both NHS services and various cancer charities to help people navigate the psychological challenges of having cancer. Additionally, here at FPC, we have a team of expert Psychologists who offer evidence-based and gold standard psychological therapies to support people through the impact of a cancer diagnosis, its treatment and recovery. Such therapies include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT). Support can be accessed via one-to-one therapy and/or a group therapy programme. We have recently developed a specialist online ACT-based group programme for people living with new or long-term physical health conditions. If you or someone you know may be interested in this group therapy programme, more information can be found by clicking here.

Written by Dr Jonathan Davidson and Dr Christopher Bonner, Associate Clinical Psychologists in The Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic’s Health Psychology Team

[1] Office for National Statistics. (2019). Cancer registration statistics, England: 2017. Office for National Statistics. 

[2] Simard S, Thewes B, Humphris G, et al. Fear of cancer recurrence in adult cancer survivors: a systematic review of quantitative studies. J Cancer Survivorship. 2013;7(3):300‐322. 10.1007/s11764-013-0272-z