People with cancer often find that, in addition to the conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, they can be helped by complementary therapies, eg hypnotherapy, which work with the mind as well as the body. While more clinical studies are needed there is some, limited evidence that hypnotherapy (and other forms of psychosocial intervention) can improve the prognosis, and it can certainly improve the quality of life, of a person with cancer.
Hypnotherapy can help in several ways. Firstly, it is good at improving relaxation and so reducing stress. This is a stand alone benefit for everybody, but it also assists the immune system to work better. Secondly, using visualisation and suitable imagery the client can encourage his or her immune system to be more effective. This is the basis of psychoneuroimmunology, a relatively new area of research into the relationship between the mind and the immune system. Thirdly, hypnotherapy can help to alleviate some of the side effects of treatment, such as nausea in the case of chemotherapy.