Researchers believe that aesthetic cancer programs for patients may help them cope with the side effects that are associated with their disease and treatment. A recent study evaluated an aesthetic cancer support program and determined that it had a positive effect on the participants that were involved.

Health in the Mirror

Participants in the study were a part of a psychosocial support program called Health in the Mirror. This program was created specifically for female cancer patients.

“..this program may represent an opportunity for women to regain a positive contact with their bodies, which have been affected by aggressive therapies, and to reconnect with their beauty and femininity,” the study claimed.

The goal of Health in the Mirror was to help patients with appearance-related side effects that can be associated with cancer treatment. The program also helped provide women with a social support network.

For example, many mesothelioma patients participate in chemotherapy. However, this type of treatment may cause a patient to lose their hair.

Psychological Tests

A group of 88 female cancer patients were included in the study. These participants were given a series of tests. These tests analyzed their psychological response to their disease and treatment.

The tests the women were given measured variables such as
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem
  • Body image
  • Quality of life

The tests were administered to participants at 3 different times. They were given the tests prior to joining the program, on their last day, and 3 months after leaving the program.

“Our results revealed a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, anxiety and body image issues, both immediately at the conclusion of the program and 3 months later, and an improvement in self-esteem levels at the 3-month follow-up; this suggests that participating in our program could facilitate better adjustment to disease and treatment,” the study stated.

Informative Sessions

While participating in Health in the Mirror, 3 group sessions also occurred. These sessions occurred on a weekly basis and typically had about 10 to 12 patients in them. Each session helped by confronting appearance and personal experience topics.

Session 1: A makeup artist and wig expert taught the participants how to manage aesthetics associated with cancer treatment. They covered topics such as pale skin and hair loss.

Each patient was given a wig and makeup tutorial. They were also given the opportunity to choose a wig to keep.

Session 2: Consisted of an esthetician, spa treatment, and fashion stylists. It was divided into different times of the day and all of the experts were trained in oncology aesthetics.

The esthetician gave participants tips and advised them on how to treat their skin during treatment. Spa treatment consisted of treatments such as massages and manicures. Lastly, the fashion stylists consulted with each patient on matching their wardrobe colors to their skin tone.

Session 3: Was a group discussion where psychologists and oncologists were present. Each participant was able to express their feelings about both their treatment and their experiences while participating in Health in the Mirror.

Importance of Support Groups

The study revealed that other sources of support are just as important to a patient when it comes to treatment and recovery. However, more research will need to be conducted to further support this.

“…cancer cannot be restricted solely to medical care, but it must consider the patient as a whole person with needs that are not only physical or medical, but also psychological, social, and existential.” the study concluded.

Support groups, in general, can play a vital role in a patient’s treatment and recovery process. They help a patient connect with others and it allows them to share their experiences. Many groups are available in-person, by phone, or online. It is important that all patients know that they are not alone.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. “Health in the Mirror”: An Unconventional Approach to Unmet Psychological Needs in Oncology. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613306. Accessed: 10/11/2017.

About the Writer, Nicole Godfrey

Nicole Godfrey is the Senior Content Writer for Mesothelioma Guide. She develops content to help educate and provide awareness about the most significant information about improving a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis.