• Question: Is there a physicological way of getting cancer? As you can get a phantom pregnancy, can the same thing happen with cancer?

    Asked by chickenwingbods to Gioia, Iain, Jo, Leo, Mariam on 23 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Leo Garcia

      Leo Garcia answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      Wow – great question. Some people have strong cancer phobia, and are convinced that they have it, even though they don’t:


      This is a form of hypochondria – where people think they are ill, but have nothing physiologically wrong with them. And apparently some women who have had a breast removed for cancer treatment (called a ‘mastectomy’) can feel phantom pain in the removed breast:


      However, you can’t induce cancer through willpower, as the causes are (aside from lifestyle choices) generally out of our control. Fantastic question – I had never thought of phantom cancers. Well done!

    • Photo: Gioia Cherubini

      Gioia Cherubini answered on 21 Jun 2010:

      I don’t think I have ever heard of “phantom” cancer. Apart from that, there are a lot of studies trying to investigate if there is a link between stress and cancer, but most scientific studies have found that stress does not increase the risk of cancer. The way that stress could lead to cancer, it’s maybe more an indirect one, because if you are stressed you are more likely to adapt more unhealthy behaviours, like drinking, smoking or over-eating that are all high risk factors for developing cancer

    • Photo: Mariam Orme

      Mariam Orme answered on 22 Jun 2010:

      No, cancer is a physical disease. Interesting thought though!

    • Photo: Iain Moal

      Iain Moal answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      There is no known link between mental health or stress, and cancer. I doubt that it would be possible for there to be a ‘phantom tumour’.

    • Photo: Joanna Watson

      Joanna Watson answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      I’ve never heard of that happening. The mind is very powerful thing, but even if it could happen it would be EXTREMELY rare.