Effect of Virtual Reality on Breast Cancer Patients

W.S. Al-Halabi, S.A. Aseeri, R.A. Almeleak, and H.T. Al-Hashmie (Saudi Arabia)


Breast Cancer, Psychological Therapy, Guided Imagery, Computer Games, Virtual Reality.


Treatment of cancer disease depends heavily on patient psychology as well as clinical therapy. Victims of breast cancer usually experience some common symptoms after exposure to chemotherapy treatment, as part of the side effects. These symptoms can be depression, anxiety, vomiting, nausea and many others. Earlier literature reported that patients can control these symptoms if they believe that they can. Imagery therapy is a well-known technique used to enhance patients' belief and boost their self-esteem and confidence. This results in tremendous improvement in their attitudes and emotions and clinically improves the immune system. Imagery therapy is viewed as a complementary psychological intervention when used in conjunction with conventional therapy. This kind of therapy creates a virtual world for cancer patients to cope with their disease and experience better quality of life. Virtual Reality (VR) is a professional laboratory-proven method used as a tool to enable physicians and psychiatrists to lead their patients through huge barriers of depression during treatment. Many VR environments and computer games have been developed and tested to enable health specialists to help cancer patients in this way. This article discusses the effect of virtual reality as one of the guided imagery techniques which distract patients from the stress and discomfort often associated with chemotherapy. The paper shows how side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, stress and severe pain are alleviated. Some existing systems are presented along with our newly-introduced system.

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