Breast surgery patients who received hypnosis before surgery needed less pain medication and experienced fewer side effects than patients who did not receive hypnosis before the same surgery, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2007; 99 , 1304–12). Since breast cancer surgery patients make up the largest number of female cancer patients receiving surgery, medical professionals are motivated to find methods to reduce the need for drugs and to lessen the impact of common side effects, such as pain, nausea and fatigue.
Researchers from academic medical centers in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and Romania conducted a randomized clinical trial involving 200 women scheduled for breast cancer surgery. Subjects were assigned to either a 15-minute presurgery hypnosis session or to a nondirected “listening” session with a psychologist. The scientists recorded levels of medication used during and after surgery, as well as patient-reported pain and side effects after surgery.
Patients in the hypnosis group required less medication and experienced fewer and less severe side effects than patients in the listening group. As a result, the financial cost for women who were hypnotized was $772.71 less per person than it was for the control group. (The surgery generally cost $8,561 per person.) The study authors recommended that hypnosis be used on patients before breast cancer surgery.
Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is IDEA’s body-mind-spirit spokesperson and a contributing editor. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher, a body-mind-skills specialist and an award-winning author based in Palm Beach, Florida, and Zurich, Switzerland. Her books include Pilates Fusion: Well-Being for Body, Mind and Spirit. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.