Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer


Must include: How healthcare workers are affected by caring for cancer patients, emotional effects of cancer as a family/ friend of a cancer survivor, emotional and psychological effects of cancer as a patient who is or who has previously undergone treatment, the American Cancer Society and what the organization does to assist the community as a whole, the value of this project as a nursing student Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer.


Emotional and Psychological Effects of Cancer


Cancer is one of the most common diseases affecting people throughout the world. In the US, it accounts for around 50 percent of all deaths every year. In 2020, cancer is expected to cause around 600,000 deaths in the US (National Cancer Institute, 2020). An issue with cancer is that it leads to adverse emotional and psychological impacts on the healthcare professionals, patients and family members and friends of the patients. The adverse impacts can last even after successful treatment of the disease. In this regard, this paper addresses the emotional and psychological impacts of the disease on the aforementioned stakeholders. In addition, it addresses the roles played by the American Cancer Society to suppress the disease and describes the importance or value of this project Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer.

Impacts on the Patients

Cancer has numerous psychological and emotional impacts on the patients during and after treatment. The first emotional impact is anxiety. The results derived from the previous studies indicate that almost all cancer patients have anxiety expressed through worry, shaking and other signs. Around 48 percent of the patients express high levels of anxiety. Approximately 15 percent of the patients develop anxiety disorder that lasts even after surviving cancer (Niedzwiedz et al., 2019). The most common psychological impact is depressive disorder. Another emotional impact experienced by some of the cancer patients is the feeling of loss of body image and intimacy. The loss of body image occurs if there are major changes to the body, such as becoming weak and skinny. Some lose intimacy especially if their sexual organs are removed or significantly affected during the treatment process. Some of the cancer patients express extreme fear since they feel that they are likely to die (Niedzwiedz et al., 2019). Others develop anger against themselves and other people. The feelings of being worthless are also common among the cancer patients.

Most patients develop depression after diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In addition to having depressed mood, they start losing or gaining weight at a rapid rate, think too much about the impacts and develop fatigue frequently, among other signs. The previous studies indicate that approximately 25 percent of the patients diagnosed with cancer develop depressive disorder that may persist even after survival (Niedzwiedz et al., 2019). The patients may also develop trauma especially due to the pain that is associated with cancer. After survival, they may develop post-traumatic disorders.

Effects on Family Members and Friends

Cancer affects the patient’s family members and friends emotionally in various ways. First, they develop anxiety that is usually expressed in terms of worry especially before successful treatment. The family members develop worry and fear of the likelihood of losing their loved one to death. Close family members such as the spouse, children and parents are usually the most affected by anxiety (Lim, Kim & Lee, 2013). Cancer may also lead the family members and friends to develop feelings of anger and sadness.

The friends and family members may also develop stress and depression especially when the patient has advanced cancer. The depression and stress usually emanate from the thoughts that the patient is likely to die. The stress and depression can last even after cancer survival especially on the family members and friends that depend on the patient and are unable to continue doing so due to the ultimate impacts (Lim et al., 2013). If, for instance, the bread winner in a family becomes incapacitated after cancer treatment, the dependents may suffer financially, leading to stress and depression. If the sexual organs are affected, intimacy with the spouse may be adversely affected.

Impacts on the Health Workers

The health workers involved in process of taking care of cancer patients are also affected in various ways. First, the health workers are affected emotionally. They feel that they have the burden to provide the best possible support to the patients with cancer to increase chances of survival. Despite putting a lot of efforts to support the patients emotionally, psychologically and physically, some of them do not survive (Longacre, Ross, & Fang, 2014). The death of such patients can cause stress to the healthcare professionals especially if they had developed close and trusting relationships with the patients Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer.

In some cases, the death of the patients can lead to trauma. In some cases, the health workers have the burden to keep close to the patients for prolonged periods of time, leading to fatigue. The fatigue can lead to distress and depression. In some cases, the health workers develop anxiety, stress after watching patients diagnosed with cancer experiencing severe pain (Longacre et al., 2014). The anxiety may also result from the knowledge that a patient diagnosed with advanced cancer is unlikely survive for long. Some of the health workers may develop worry when they feel that they lack skills to provide the necessary support to the patients with cancer, especially when risky situations are involved.

Assistance from the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society, which is a voluntary organization, provides the community with support meant to prevent and reduce cases of cancer through conducting comprehensive research on the disease. The organization provides comprehensive and updated information related to cancer on its website and provides communication channels through which people can ask questions (The American Cancer Society, 2020). As indicated on the organization’s website, it conducts research and supplies information about cancer diagnosis. The organization teaches the community members about the signs that may indicate that a person has cancer. In doing so, the organization enhances the ability for cancer to be diagnosed at the early stages of development. The American Cancer Society is renowned for its research on the factors that increase the risk of getting cancer and the recommendations on the prevention strategies.

The American Cancer Society supports community members after diagnosis with cancer to find the right treatment facilities and health professionals depending on factors such as stage of the disease. In addition, it supports the people diagnosed with cancer in determining ways to find financial support for the treatment of the disease (The American Cancer Society, 2020). For instance, the organization guides the patients on how they can get financial assistance from local health programs supporting patients with cancer. The American Cancer Society also provides support through researching, compiling and supplying information on the traditional and modern methods for cancer treatment and their effectiveness (The American Cancer Society, 2020). Also, the organization provides information about the side effects of different treatment therapies Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer.

The organization also supports the community through providing information about how cancer patients can best manage it during treatment and its effects after survival. To provide hope to the patients with cancer, the organization supplies copies of real inspiring stories of people who have survived cancer. The organization also supports the family members and friends through providing guidance on how they can adjust to the situation and provide the necessary support to the patients diagnosed with, or successfully treated with cancer (The American Cancer Society, 2020). Also, the organization provides guidance to the healthcare professionals on how to support cancer patients and cope with the emotional and psychological impacts. Importantly, the organization conducts research and provides guidance to the health professionals on how to provide end of life care to the cancer patients that are unlikely to survive. As well, the American Cancer Society provides suggestions on how children of patients diagnosed with cancer can be supported (The American Cancer Society, 2020). Last, the organization contributes funds in the form of grants to the programs that support cancer patients.


The value of the Project

The value of this project lies mainly in compiling information about the emotional and psychological effects of cancer to the patients, healthcare workers, the family members and the friends. The information is useful in nursing in devising strategies for mitigating the adverse emotional effects on all the stakeholders. As such, the information gives awareness to the nurses and other healthcare professionals about the expected impacts of cancer. Thus, they can prepare in advance or establish strategies to increase the ability to cope with the expected impacts. As well, they can use the information to prepare strategies or therapies that can be used to assist the patients, family members, friends and other stakeholders to cope with the effects. The information is also useful since it alerts about the need to provide the patients and other stakeholders with treatment for adverse emotional and psychological impacts even after survival. As explained earlier, a significant proportion of the cancer patients suffer from depression and stress even after survival. Thus, the project highlights the need for diagnosis of such impacts after survival and the use of effective treatment strategies such as the cognitive-behavioral therapy. The information about the American Cancer Society is useful since it provides a hint about how the organization complements the efforts of the health professionals in suppressing cancer. The organization provides the nurses and other health professionals with an opportunity to support cancer patients through volunteering to do research, among other efforts Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer.


Overall, cancer affects the patients, healthcare professionals, family members and friends emotionally and psychologically in various ways. As explained, it leads to stress, depression, anger and sadness, among other impacts, on the different stakeholders. The American Cancer Society is one of the renowned organizations contribute through doing research and supplying information meant to suppress cancer. As explained, this project is useful in facilitating development of strategies to cope with, and mitigate, the impacts of cancer.


Lim, S. M., Kim, H. C., & Lee, S. (2013). Psychosocial impact of cancer patients on their family

members. Cancer research and treatment : official journal of Korean Cancer Association, 45(3), 226–233. doi:

Longacre, M. L., Ross, E. A., & Fang, C. Y. (2014). Caregiving Choice and Emotional Stress

Among Cancer Caregivers. Western journal of nursing research, 36(6), 806–824. doi:

National Cancer Institute (2020). Cancer Stat Facts: Common Cancer Sites. Retrieved 27 June

2020 from,an%20estimated%20228%2C820%20new%20cases.

Niedzwiedz, C. L., Knifton, L., Robb, K. A., Katikireddi, S. V., & Smith, D. J. (2019).

Depression and anxiety among people living with and beyond cancer: a growing clinical and research priority Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Cancer . BMC cancer, 19(1), 943. doi:

The American Cancer Society (2020). Treatment and Support. Retrieved 27 June 2020 from
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