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Patients who try to laugh their way to cancer recovery may end up with results that aren't funny. Emotional well-being wasn't an independent factor in the survival of patients with head and neck cancers, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found.


The study included 1,093 patients with head and neck cancers in radiology-oncology clinical trials. Researchers assessed the patients' quality of life, including measuring their emotional well-being. The analysis accounted for tumor-related and sociodemographic variables.


Lead researcher James C. Coyne, a University of Pennsylvania psychology professor, said that psychotherapy can have many social and emotional benefits, but patients shouldn't look to it as a way to extend their lives. These study findings contradict care providers' long-held belief that a patient's psychological state affects cancer survival.




Coyne JC, et al., Emotional well-being does not predict survival in head and neck cancer patients: A radiation therapy oncology group study, Cancer, December 1, 2007.