Log In
Monday 24th October 2016

Hypnosis for cancer ops

3rd September 2007

Patients undergoing surgery for breast cancer are likely to need less anaesthetic if they have first been given hypnosis, a new study has found.


The Mount Sinai School of Medicine observed the effects of either hypnosis or a conversation with a psychologist before surgery on 200 volunteers.

In a paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the team found that the women who had been given 15 minutes of hypnosis before their operations needed less anaesthetic and reported less pain after surgery.

Pain, nausea and fatigue are commonly reported side-effects of breast cancer surgery.

They often translate into longer hospital stays, extra medication, or a second admission if side-effects are severe.

While some experts say more research is still needed to prove that hypnosis works, this study is not the first to suggest that receiving suggestions for relaxation and pleasant mental images could help lessen pain.

In the Mount Sinai study, led by Guy Montgomery, the women undergoing hypnosis were also instructed how to use hypnosis on themselves.

Patients who had received hypnosis needed less anaesthetic than the others, and reported less pain, nausea, fatigue and emotional distress after the operation.

The study also pinpointed the money-saving benefits of hypnosis when side-effects were significantly lessened.

According to David Spiegel, from Stanford University School of Medicine, who contributed to the journal article, it is entirely possible to substantially alter pain perception during surgical procedures by inducing hypnotic relaxation, transforming perception in parts of the body, or directing attention elsewhere.

He said the psychological procedure of hypnosis changed the experience of pain as much as many analgesic medications and far more than placebos.

Sarah Cant from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said the study was interesting but called for larger studies before any firm conclusions could be drawn.

She said anyone interested in using hypnosis should discuss it with their breast care team first and ensure that they are using an appropriately trained and experienced hypnotherapist.

Share this page


There are no comments for this article, be the first to comment!

Post your comment

Only registered users can comment. Fill in your e-mail address for quick registration.

Your email address:

Your comment will be checked by a Healthcare Today moderator before it is published on the site.

M3 - For secure managed hosting over N3 or internet
© Mayden Foundation 2016