Hypnotherapy for Cancer Patients

While there are many ways to approach a cancer treatment plan, one addition to such a program could include hypnotherapy. If you or someone you know has either been recently diagnosed with cancer or has been fighting a form of cancer you might be asking: Will hypnotherapy work for cancer?

In this article, we'll be exploring the answer to this question, discuss how it works, benefits and side effects, and research so you're prepared to make a decision on whether hypnotherapy will be effective as a supportive treatment option for your overall cancer care and treatment plan. We will also suggest other alternative supportive cancer treatments and as well as hypnosis for cancer resources to consider.

Research on Hypnotherapy and Cancer

There has been a lot of research on hypnotherapy and cancer including what role hypnotherapy places in the care and treatment of cancer patients. We are going to use the research and studies that have been conducted to explore:

  • Fear: How hypnotherapy can help cancer patients with the fear of undergoing cancer treatment.

  • Vomiting: How hypnotherapy can help cancer patients vomiting and other side effects of chemotherapy.

  • Other: How hypnotherapy can impact cancer treatment and cancer patients in other ways through its benefits for cancer patients.

Hypnotherapy and Cancer

Can hypnotherapy cure cancer? This is a question that people often ask. The simple answer is no, cancer cannot be cured through hypnotherapy.

Although hypnotherapy cannot cure cancer, the role hypnotherapy plays in the treatment of cancer patients is an important one - Hypnotherapy plays the role of comfort, and support for cancer patients. Hypnotherapy acts as a tool and method of managing the effects of living with cancer and the process of treating cancer.

Because cancer is a condition with physical symptoms and experiences to overcome with treatment, and during treatment, there is a level of emotional and mental distress that occurs in a battle with cancer. Many people may also experience:

The role of comfort and support by hypnotherapy is vital to alleviating such experiences for cancer patients. Hypnotherapy is comforting and supportive for cancer patients by providing a space for cancer patients to experience and learn tools that reduce the level of distress around cancer. Wondering just how hypnotherapy works to alleviate the factors of distress?

How Hypnosis Can Help with Fear in Cancer Treatment

A study published in the Journal of Psychological, Social, and Behavioral Dimensions of Cancer looked at how hypnotherapy and cancer patients entering a state of hypnosis can alleviate the sensations and feelings of both fear and anxiety over cancer treatment. The study focused on the experiences of children living through cancer treatments. However all cancer patients no matter their age can experience different degrees of distress that shows itself through both fear and anxiety.

What that means is even though the study involved children, the findings of how hypnotherapy can help with cancer treatment can apply to all cancer patients. So what did the study find?

5 Things We Now Know About Fear, Cancer Treatment and Hypnotherapy

Here are five things we know know about fear, cancer treatment, and hypnotherapy:

  1. Needles: Needles and cancer treatments with needles including the process of extracting bone marrow can bring about a greater feeling of fear and anxiety; even more than being diagnosed with cancer itself.

  2. Mental health: The number of repeat procedures often needed with needles, surgery, and other cancer treatments for cancer play a short-term and long term effect on mental health.

  3. Fear: Not knowing what will happen the first time a treatment for cancer is experienced and the conditioning of fear that comes from repeated procedures can lead to the fear that is associated with cancer treatment and cancer patients - especially children.

  4. Anxiety: The anticipation of a cancer treatment procedure can build up as the timing for the procedure gets closer, and this can increase levels anxiety and fear.

  5. Help: Anticipation, anxiety, and fear are all can be overwhelming for cancer patients to experience, particularly when undergoing cancer treatment. Hypnotherapy can assist provide comfort and support with alleviating these sensations and feelings.

One of the authors of the study Tamsin Ford, wanted three things to be known:

  1. Positive impact: The study that he and his colleagues conducted verified and demonstrated the positive impact hypnotherapy can have on reducing fear and anxiety for cancer patients experiencing multiple needle-related treatments.

  2. Cost effective: Hypnosis is inexpensive to provide as self-hypnosis can be taught and hypnotherapy does not require high-end technology.

  3. Trials: The next step is to conduct high-quality trials to demonstrate how the adoption of hypnotherapy into clinics and hospitals for cancer patients will be beneficial.

Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Cancer Patients

There are many benefits that are many benefits of hypnotherapy that are unique to cancer patients. When it comes to cancer, hypnotherapy can beneficial from providing hypnosis for nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy cancer treatment to overcoming feelings of fear, pain, depression, and anxiety. Hypnotherapy for cancer can also be beneficial for surgery recovery and survivorship.

Want a to know how each of these benefits that are experienced through hypnotherapy for cancer patients works and help those fighting a battle with cancer? Read more: Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Cancer Patients

Side Effects of Hypnotherapy For Cancer

During hypnotherapy, you are in control. You are not handing over any aspect of control over to a hypnotherapist. Unlike the needle prone treatments during cancer treatment, hypnotherapy is not invasive. Because of this, there are many advantages to using hypnotherapy throughout the battle with cancer - One the same hand, these same aspects lead to no side effects or bring rise to concerns one needs to consider.

2 Questions to Consider About Side Effects of Hypnotherapy for Cancer

There are however two questions that should be considered when it comes to side effects:

  1. Is there a known severe mental disorder or psychosis to take into account?

This question is important because if such a condition is present, the person's physician and psychologist should first be consulted before moving forward with hypnotherapy.

  1. What is the person's level of hypnotisability?

The likelihood of a person being able to enter a state of hypnosis is dependent on what they score on a hypnotisability score. A person's hypnotisability level is often tested by a hypnotherapist before hypnotherapy treatment is stated. The higher a person's hypnotisability score the greater the level of success the person will experience with hypnotherapy.

How Many Hypnotherapy Sessions are Required for Cancer Patients?

The number of hypnotherapy sessions required for cancer patients will vary from person to person. The number of hypnotherapy sessions needed may be one to understand self-hypnosis, to a range of one to twelve or more. This is because there are many variables that exist in the journey through a battle with cancer and as treatment shifts or if a person shifts from battling to remission, to survivorship - the reasons for why hydrotherapy will be used will also shift.

Hypnosis and Stage 4 Cancer

Hypnosis can be both useful and beneficial for advanced and stage four cancer. Want to know how hypnotherapy can work for stage four cancer? Read more: Hypnotherapy for Stage 4 Cancer.

Books and CDs on Hypnotherapy for Cancer

Here are some recommended books and CDs for hypnotherapy and cancer.

Self-Hypnosis and Cancer

Self-hypnosis is a type of hypnotherapy and this one study concluded that hypnotherapy for cancer patients should end with homework. In essence, when cancer patients are taught how to do self-hypnosis they do not have to rely on the presence of a hypnotherapist to experience the benefits of hypnotherapy. For cancer patients, this can come in useful in the following situations:

  • Sleep: Insomnia and other sleep challenges at home or in a hospital bed

  • Surgery: In an operating room before or during a surgery

  • Radiotherapy: When radiotherapy is needed

  • Chemotherapy: During chemotherapy treatment

  • Other health conditions: Any other time that battling cancer may bring on other health conditions like stress, anxiety, or depression

Self-Hypnosis Script for Cancer

Here is a sample of self-hypnosis script that can be used for cancer:

Drifting into a relaxed and calm hypnotic state...deeper and more calm with every breath of air...so deeply relaxed now...that you will be able to respond to each hypnotic suggestion. There is a relationship between the mind and the body...and as you drift into a deeper trance state... you realize the many ways your body heals itself every day with scrapes, bruises, burns and. infections... as you exhale and grow more relaxed and deeper into the state of hypnosis... you visualize your immune system working to heal your body of cancer... exhale... every day your body is working to get better... You are on a journey... feel your body and how it is relaxed.

Of course, this is a sample script for helping a cancer patient connect with the power of their own body and be able to enter a state of relaxation. This is because stress can be overabundant when a family member is ill particularly with cancer, and stress plays a role in how well the immune system's ability to function and do its job to heal and maintain wellness.

As noted, there are many other ways and times through a cancer patient's battle that hypnotherapy and its benefits can be experienced.

Hypnotherapy and Cancer Prevention

Cancer prevention through hypnotherapy is indeed a possibility. So should you run out and get weekly hypnotherapy sessions to increase your chances of not having to battle any form of cancer? No, hypnotherapy does not prevent the presence of cancer in a person's body simply by suggesting that cancer never grow or be present.

The way that hypnotherapy is beneficial to the prevention of cancer is by helping people see and experience the results that they need to change aspects of their life. Want to know what lifestyle aspects?

There are two in particular that research and science have shown to be connected to the development of cancer:

  1. Smoking

  2. Weight management

Hypnotherapy can help prevent cancer by using hypnotherapy for managing weight and stopping the habit of smoking. Those two lifestyle changes can play a great role in cancer prevention. Would you like to know how hypnotherapy can work to help you lose and manage weight or stop smoking? Read: Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss and Hypnotherapy for Smoking Cessation

Alternative and Holistic Approaches to Supporting Cancer Treatment

Other complementary medicine approaches to support cancer treatment include:

Massage is another great way to help the body relax and in turn help the immune system function, however, cancer patients should always communicate with bodyworkers and massage therapists about their cancer. This is because it is not advisable to have massage therapy and other forms of bodywork in areas of the body that is known to have cancer or tumors.

More Information

Want more information on hypnotherapy? Check out these other resources:


Carlson, L. E., Toivonen, K., Flynn, M., Piedalue, J. D., Tolsdorf, E., & Subnis, U. (2018, November 13). The Role of Hypnosis in Cancer Care. Retrieved January 9, 2019, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11912-018-0739-1#citeas

Mayhew, D., Nunns, M., Moore, D., & Ford, T. (2017). Effectiveness of Non-Pharmacological Interventions to Reduce Procedural Anxiety in Children and Adolescents Undergoing Treatment for Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pediatric Oncall, 14(4). doi:10.7199/ped.oncall.2017.s11. Retrieved January 15, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29714037

Montgomery, G. H., Schnur, J. B., & Kravits, K. (2012). Hypnosis for cancer care: over 200 years young. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 63(1), 31-44. Retrieved January 8, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3755455/