A new US study has found that cancer patients who write down their deepest fears about the disease experience a higher quality of life.
Nancy Morgan, a writing clinician, conducted an exercise with patients from a clinic at a cancer centre in Washington DC.
The exercise posed questions to leukaemia or lymphoma patients about how the cancer had changed them and how they felt about those changes.
Following the study, half of the participants said the exercise changed their thoughts about the illness, and younger patients, along with those recently diagnosed, derived the most benefit.
During a follow up survey a few weeks later, 49 percent reported that the writing had changed their thoughts about their illness, while 38 percent said their feelings towards their situation had changed.
There was no evidence of direct impact of the session on their illness, where the patients had reported greater changes in their mindset during the writing, but this could be linked to more positive reports of quality of life given to their doctors during follow-up appointments.
"Thoughts and feelings, or the cognitive processing and emotions related to cancer, are key writing elements associated with health benefits, according to previous studies," BBC quoted Morgan, as saying.
"Writing only about the facts has shown no benefit," she said.
Dr Bruce Cheson, the head of haematology at Lombardi, said: "I'm pleased to see that so many of our patients were interested in this kind of therapy.
"Our study supports the benefit of an expressive writing program and the ability to integrate such a program into a busy clinic."
The study is published in the journal The Oncologist.