MALIGNANT MELANOMA ( SKIN CANCER) AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS
Skin Cancer or malignant Melanoma originates from Melanocytes, a type of cells that make pigment that gives skin its color. The pigment is called melanin, in other words, pigment-producing cells from which we get our skin color become cancerous. Skin cancer can occur anywhere in the body. Exposure to the sun is considered to be the prominent cause behind Melanoma. Treatment includes radiation therapy, surgery, skin grafting, local excision, antiviral drugs, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Advanced melanoma is harder to treat and the prognosis is not good.
The good news is that there is a high rate of remission despite the dangerous prognosis. The immune system plays an important role in battling Melanoma. There are many cases and studies where there is a disappearance of melanoma even without conventional treatment. In an article published in Cancer Research UK, stages 1, 2, and 3 have about 100%, 80%, and 70% of survival rates. People with Melanoma in England alone have a survival rate of around 90% and these patients will survive their melanoma for 5 years or more than that after diagnosis. In India, it is very rare and accounts for only 0.3% of all cancers with recorded cases of around 4000 per year. One reason behind so little data could be the high disease burden, psychological factors like social stigma, poor patient selection, and the inability of the patient to get it diagnosed on time. Other factors are poor income level, delayed referrals to big hospitals, and poor coordination between dermatologists and oncologists. (Source Cancer research statistics and treatment)
Researchers are still confused and not sure what causes spontaneous cancer remission. Evidence points it might depend on the type of cancer and patient characteristics. They found that Immune system activation plays an important role in spontaneous remission. The immune system works in cooperation with hormones and psyche and the nervous system which is also called PNI or Psychoneuroimmunology.
In Cancer journal, there is a case of spontaneous remission in a 70-year-old man who was diagnosed with melanoma in his chest wall, which was removed in 1965. Cancer came back again after 7 years in the form of several moles but this time the patient refused to take any further treatment. After 8 months when the old man went for a follow-up visit, it was found that the small moles had reduced and size and changed color. A biopsy was performed and to much surprise, there was pigmentation but no melanoma. Again it was found that the immune system played an important role in which white blood cells or WBC played an important role. Lymphocytes (WBC cells) attacked the melanoma, Macrophages (Large WBC cells) helped in eating up the cancer and then there was a rush of antibodies that helped in wiping the cancer.
What makes the immune system so strong that helps it to destroy cancer? Again, as the research says "Type C personality" plays a huge role in melanoma patients where the patient has a history of repressed emotions and a pattern of negative emotions. There was a strong link between repression and chances of relapse or death. Type C people tend to be overly concerned for others than for themselves, coping by perseverance and being busy, keeping feelings inside, and the most peculiar of all is the tendency to think that they don't need any help and can handle things alone.
I think that people with skin cancer or say any type of cancer can increase their survival rate and enhance the power of the immune system to battle and conquer this lethal process inside their body. Psychotherapy can help these patients understand themselves, along with self-acceptance and assertion. The emotional freedom technique (EFT) or Emotional acceptance technique (EAT) can also help the patients develop competence that will armor them to stand in a responsible, not your fault, and harmless connection with the environment. It is essential to face life adversities, and unnecessary stresses and enable the healing process.
In my book "Beyond the Evil" I urged readers to develop a triad of power: Awareness, Self-esteem, and willpower to strengthen their emotional competence. Through emotional competence, you can defeat emotional repression. My other book "Emotional Acceptance Technique" will help you deal with your emotions which you have been avoiding for years through acupuncture points tapping. Although melanoma is not seen much in India emotional repression is rampant everywhere in the world. So, dealing with your emotions whether through psychotherapy, counseling, acupuncture, or in any way it can help you can make a big difference not only in fighting with melanoma but any type of cancer and autoimmune diseases also.
By Dr Abid Khan Acupuncturist