Hypnosis can help breast cancer victims

Hypnosis helps women recover from breast cancer surgery

Women who are hypnotised before having surgery for breast cancer spend less time in the operating theatre and recover better, according to new research.

A study at the Mount Sinai hospital in New York found a 15-minute session with a psychologist had a significant impact on how well women coped with surgery, how ill they felt afterwards and the levels of pain they experienced.

Guy Montogomery, lead author, suggests hypnosis should be used more widely as it not only helps women in surgery, but also saves money.

The study, carried out on 200 women having surgery to remove lumps rather than full mastectomies, said women who were hypnotised spent on average 10.6 minutes less in the operating theatre, costing £384.48 less than those who just chatted with a psychologist.

According to the research, women who were hypnotised had an average pain intensity score of 22.4 compared with 47.8 who did not. The hypnotised women also had a nausea score of 6.5 compared with 25.4 for the control group.

The paper, published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, said: ‘Together, the combination of potential improvements in symptom burden for the hundreds of thousands of women facing breast cancer surgery each year and the economic benefit for institutions argues persuasively for the more widespread application of brief pre-surgical hypnosis.’

And Dr David Spiegel, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, agreed, telling the Telegraph: ‘It has taken us a century and a half to rediscover the fact that the mind has something to do with pain and can be a powerful tool in controlling it.

‘It is now abundantly clear that we can retrain the brain to reduce pain.’

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