Cancer affects more than 20% of older adults in India. Age is one of the major factors for cancer. With advancing age, you are at more risk for cancer. There is something that is more terrible than cancer though. It is known as carcinophobia or cancer phobia – the fear of cancer.
Carcinophobia is something that is more serious than cancer itself. It is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by the chronic feat of developing cancer. Around quarter to half the population fears getting cancer to some degree. Out of these, 5-10% experience extreme worry.
Cancer phobia often shows in feelings of extreme sadness, fear, panic, and distress. In extreme cases, this phobia prevents a person to live a normal life.
Symptoms of Carcinophobia
People who suffer from carcinophobia often experience depression. These people often become isolated and reclusive. They are extremely obsessed with their health.
These feelings make them feel overwhelmed. They are unable to carry out their daily activities. These fears are usually linked to inadequate future planning and poor quality of life.
Who Are At Risk?
Cancer phobia is mostly associated with people who have had the disease or have known (or lost) close ones afflicted by it. Older adults with depression and anxiety issues are more likely to develop this phobia.
Why is Carcinophobia Debilitating?
For example, an older adult suffering from the fear of heights can avoid visiting high places. Similarly, a person with a phobia of insects can insect-proof his home. However, a person having carcinophobia is always worried about getting cancer.
Any sudden changes in weight or appearance, a new mole or a lump, or the slightest pain and discomfort can trigger the anxiety of an older adult. For such people, every change is associated with cancer and consequently death.
These older adults also incessantly worry about things like who will take care of them in their illness, how will cancer affect their quality of life, how will it affect their personal and social lives, how will they handle the pain, or who will take care of their close ones after their death due to cancer.
These feelings are triggered before the older adult visits a doctor. Sometimes, these feelings are so strong that the person avoids going to the doctor also, feeling that it would be of no use. They also shun outside contact because they fear that they will “spread the disease” to others.
Treatment for Carcinophobia
Just like any other phobia, cancer phobia is treatable too. Talking to a psychiatric therapist always helps. You can also search online to get all the information about cancer and the latest advancements in its treatment.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a good way to make an older adult with cancer phobia overcome fear. It helps you review your fears more realistically and assess your situation practically. You can then react to your fear in a better way. Psychological counselling along with prescribed anti-anxiety medication also helps in reducing cancer phobia.
If you suffer from carcinophobia or you know someone who suffers from it, do not hesitate to seek professional help. If left untreated, cancer phobia can seriously affect every part of your life.
Have you or someone you know experienced the fear of cancer? Do share your views on this article in the comment section below.
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