You see it everywhere – articles and news reports that feature experts who talk about how they’ve just discovered that a particular environmental factor causes cancer or that exposure to particular sweeteners or preservatives will give you cancer. Additionally, celebrities keep cancer in the public eye by candidly discussing their cancer diagnoses or treatments in magazines and newspapers across the country. Did you ever get the idea that it is almost impossible to walk out the door without coming in contact with something that’s sure to cause a tumor? Even though it is said jokingly, people often remark that everything causes cancer nowadays. It’s no wonder, then, that people are beginning to fear getting cancer before they even develop it.
Carcinophobia, or the fear of getting cancer, typically affects those who have had the disease or have known people afflicted with it. Of course, it’s normal to experience fear of any kind but people with carcinophobia often take their fear to the extreme and when that fear impacts their everyday life it becomes a source for concern.
Of all the phobias that exist, the fear of getting cancer can be one of the most debilitating. Take a fear of heights in comparison: the person afflicted with this fear can avoid heights and continue about their day. But a person who suffers from carcinophobia carries their fear with them. For them, the slightest pain or the appearance of new mole or lump on the body is a guarantee of cancer. What follows is anxiety about everything associated with cancer: the possibility of painful treatments, loss of hair, spreading of the cancer, and death. They’re also bound to worry about how it will impact their personal lives. Who will take care of them while they’re sick? Who will take care of their family and children if they succumb to the disease? These concerns and many others often arise before they’ve even visited a doctor. Eventually, the fear can become so overwhelming that the person may refuse to leave their safe environment and may shun people because they might be “carrying” carcinogens.
The good news is that this fear of getting cancer, like any other phobia, is treatable. Like most things, we often fear what we don’t understand and it can be helpful for the person who is afraid of getting cancer to research the latest advancements in cancer treatment technologies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the person become aware of their unreasonable thoughts and fears so they can view the situation more realistically and react in a healthier way. If all else fails, psychological counseling combined with the use of anxiety disorders medications has shown great results in many people.
If you or someone you know suffers from a fear of getting cancer, please seek professional help before it impacts your life. Left untreated, carcinophobia can become a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of the sufferer’s work, social, and home life.
For more information on carcinophobia and treatment for the fear of getting cancer, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. They can be reached by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.