Therapeutic use of classic psychedelics to treat cancer-related psychiatric distress.
Int Rev Psychiatry. 2018 Aug 13;:1-14
Authors: Ross S
Cancer is highly prevalent and one of the leading causes of global morbidity and mortality. Psychological and existential suffering is common in cancer patients, associated with poor psychiatric and medical outcomes. Promising early-phase clinical research (1960s to early 1970s) suggested a therapeutic signal for serotoninergic psychedelics (e.g. psilocybin, LSD) in treating cancer-related psychiatric distress. After several decades of quiescence, research on psychedelic-assisted therapy to treat psychiatric disorders in cancer patients has resumed within the last 2 decades in the US and Europe. This review article is based on a systematic search of clinical trials from 1960-2018 researching the therapeutic use of psychedelic treatment in patients with serious or terminal illnesses and related psychiatric illness. The search found 10 eligible clinical trials, with a total of 445 participants, with the vast majority of the patients having advanced or terminal cancer diagnoses. Six open label trials, published between 1964 and 1980 (n = 341), suggested that psychedelic therapy (mostly with LSD) may improve cancer-related depression, anxiety, and fear of death. Four RCTs trials were published between 2011 and 2016 (n = 104), mostly with psilocybin treatment (n = 92), and demonstrated that psychedelic-assisted treatment can produce rapid, robust, and sustained improvements in cancer-related psychological and existential distress.
PMID: 30102082 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Glucocorticoid administration restores salience network activity in patients with spider phobia.
Depress Anxiety. 2018 Aug 12;:
Authors: Soravia LM, Schwab S, Weber N, Nakataki M, Wiest R, Strik W, Heinrichs M, de Quervain D, Federspiel A
BACKGROUND: Glucocorticoids reduce phobic fear in patients with anxiety disorders. Although the neurobiology of anxiety disorders is not fully understood, convergent structural and functional neuroimaging studies have identified abnormalities in various brain regions, including those in the salience network (SN) and default mode network (DMN). Here, we examine the effects of glucocorticoid administration on SN and DMN activity during the processing of phobic stimuli.
METHODS: We use functional magnetic resonance imaging to record brain activity in 24 female patients with spider phobia who were administered either 20 mg of cortisol or placebo while viewing pictures of spiders. Fourteen healthy female participants were tested with the same task but without substance administration. Independent component analysis (ICA) performed during stimulus encoding identified the SN and DMN as exhibiting synchronized activation in diverse brain regions; thus, we examined the effects of cortisol on these networks. Furthermore, participants had to rate their level of fear at various time points.
RESULTS: Glucocorticoids reduced phobic fear in patients with spider phobia. The ICA performed during stimulus encoding revealed that activity in the SN and DMN was reduced in placebo-treated patients versus healthy controls. Brain activity in the SN, but not the DMN, was altered in cortisol- versus placebo-treated patients to a level that was similar to that observed in healthy controls.
CONCLUSIONS: Activity in both the SN and DMN was reduced in patients with spider phobia. Cortisol administration altered the SN activity to a level that was comparable to that found in healthy controls. This alteration in SN activity might reflect the fear-reducing effects of glucocorticoids in phobia.
PMID: 30099829 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
What is it about a cancer diagnosis that would worry people? A population-based survey of adults in England.
BMC Cancer. 2018 01 24;18(1):86
Authors: Murphy PJ, Marlow LAV, Waller J, Vrinten C
BACKGROUND: Surveys indicate quite high prevalence of cancer worry in the general population, but little is known about what it is about cancer that worries people. A better understanding of the origins of cancer worry may help elucidate previously found inconsistencies in its behavioural effect on cancer prevention, screening uptake, and help-seeking for symptoms. In this study, we explore the prevalence and population distribution of general cancer worry and worries about specific aspects of cancer previously identified.
METHODS: A population-based survey of 2048 English adults (18-70 years, April-May 2016), using face-to-face interviews to assess demographic characteristics, general cancer worry and twelve sources of cancer worry (adapted from an existing scale), including the emotional, physical, and social consequences of a diagnosis.
RESULTS: In general, a third of respondents (37%) never worried about cancer, 57% worried occasionally/sometimes, and 6% often/very often. In terms of specific worries, two thirds would be 'quite a bit' or 'extremely' worried about the threat to life and emotional upset a diagnosis would cause. Half would worry about surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and loss of control over life. Worries about the social consequences were less commonly anticipated: just under half would worry about financial problems or their social roles, and a quarter would be worried about effects on identity, important relationships, gender role, and sexuality. Women and younger people reported more frequent worry about getting cancer, and would be more worried about the emotional, physical, and social consequences of a cancer diagnosis (p < .001). Those from ethnic minority backgrounds reported less frequent worry about getting cancer than their white counterparts, but would be equally worried about the emotional and physical impact of a cancer diagnosis, and worried more about the social consequences of a cancer diagnosis (p < .05).
CONCLUSIONS: The majority of English adults worry at least occasionally about getting cancer, and would be most worried about the emotional and physical impact of a cancer diagnosis. Distinguishing between the various worries that cancer can evoke may help inform efforts to allay undue worries in those who are deterred by them from engaging with cancer prevention and early detection.
PMID: 29361912 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]