Richa Madaan

Richa Madaan

The Psychological Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis

  Jan 16, 2024
Reviewed by Ayushi Jain

The Psychological Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis

Since cancer is such an unpredictable and frightening disease that affects both physical and mental health of a person. Receiving a lymphoma comes with plenty of upsetting emotions. The psychological impact can have lasting effects even long after treatment for the original illness is complete. 


In 2023, 2.0 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States in an estimated 297,790 women and 2,800 men will be examined 

To tackle difficult feelings and build your resilience for the future, it’s worth understanding the most common intellectual outcomes and how they are dealt with.

Common Psychological Effects of a Cancer Diagnosis

Although no two people will have identical reactions to it, there are a few common effects that take their toll on an individual’s mental health. 

The data gathered by central cancer registries and mortality data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics reveal that, in 2023, there will be 1,958,310 new cancer cases and 609,820 cancer deaths in the United States.

Aside from the initial shock of the news, individuals can react in various ways depending on their beliefs, pre-existing mental health, and the nature of their detection. Here are a few of the common mental outcomes experienced by tumor patients.

Increased Anxiety

Understandably, anxiety increases after a cancer diagnosis. This is the body’s natural response to a threat as it’s intended to spur action and find a solution. However, since the solution to the cyst is in the hands of your care team, this stress has nowhere to go. Left unaddressed, concern can make other aspects of life more difficult than they should be.


When anxiety tends to be a sharp, acute feeling, depression is often experienced as duller and heavier. Individuals with a recent identification can fall into depression due to a feeling of hopelessness, particularly because the disease is known for its complexity.

Interesting Fact
Most people are unaware of the fact that the word ‘cancer’ comes from the Latin word used for ‘crab’. 

Therefore, wishes, plans, and the future may seem uncertain at one point. It can be mild and temporary or severe and lasting, depending on one’s ability to tackle tough times. Depression might lead to thoughts of suicide or even patients can’t resist thinking about his/her death. 

Anger and Resentment

Some people become resentful after its identification. They might behave in such a way that their close ones are concerned about their safety, he/she may not be able to eat, or sleep properly, or isn’t interested anymore in the usual activities for days. 

Besides, it is a form of dread expressed through anger at life taking a sudden turn for the worse. With therapy, anger and resentment can be better understood and managed.

Life Span Considerations

The response is often profound shock and disruption. Individuals or their close ones might be overwhelmed by the realization of their one’s vulnerability to this disease. 

Due to a high degree of anxiety, lifespan considerations are common. It may further affect the entire family and prove to be a roller coaster ride for a family including the patient

Strategies to Manage the Psychological Effects of Cancer

Although the emotions that arise due to identification are some of the greatly painful that a person can experience, it’s possible to develop strategies for coping even during the toughest times. Here are a few methods that make it simpler to combat your nearly all challenging feelings and thoughts.

Seek Expert Advice

Receiving the best possible care is the reassuring step that you can take. When you know that your treatment is in trustworthy hands, you’ll find it easier to manage any anxiety surrounding your illness. 

Places such as the Moffitt Cancer Center offer award-winning care that gives patients additional peace of mind. You should feel comfortable discussing your treatment plan with your care team as well as asking for recommendations for mental support. 

Cancer centers tend to have either in-house counseling or external therapists that they can refer patients to.

Talk to a Therapist

If referred by your care team or sourced externally, a therapist trained in helping individuals can be an excellent source of comfort and insight. 

Do You Know?
Approximately 25% of cancer survivors experience psychological distress which further is manifested as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and so on. 

By learning more about how the mind works and why it responds to serious health news in certain ways, you can develop mental techniques to combat unwanted feelings. 

Your therapist will ask what your specific goals are and how you feel about your cancer diagnosis, so your psychological care is tailored to you.

Lean on Family and Friends

The people in your life who love you are your pre-existing support network. Some feel like they’re being a burden or are too proud to accept any help, but it benefits you and your loved ones to let them support you. 

Just as you’re experiencing the complex and unpleasant feelings that come with its identification, the people closest to you are also concerned for your well-being. There’s nothing weak about accepting help in times of need.