Clinical study of psychedelic drugs for cancer patients could be a ‘game changer’

Psychedelics have been shown to help patients who are facing their own mortality.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in America develop depression and anxiety as a result of a cancer diagnosis. As of now, there isn’t much physicians can do to treat those conditions, says Dr. Anna Beck, an oncologist and the director of end-of-life care at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“You can’t throw medications for anxiety or depression at this kind of existential distress,” Beck said. “You need something that’s really kind of out of the box.”

In the spirit of out-of-the-box thinking, Beck and a team of researchers at Huntsman are exploring an experimental treatment for the demoralization and anxiety that often accompany cancer: group psychedelic therapy.

They want to see whether group psychotherapy, combined with psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, can safely help people confront the sense of their own mortality.

To read more about how psychedelic drugs could help patients, visit KUER.org.

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.