(HealthDay News) — For patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC), expressive writing (EW) may improve cancer-related symptoms and physical functioning, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Kathrin Milbury, PhD, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues randomly assigned 227 patients (mean age, 58 years; 41% women) with stage I to IV RCC (28% percent stage IV) to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings regarding their cancer (EW) or about neutral topics (neutral writing [NW]) on four separate occasions.

Quality-of-life measures were assessed at baseline and 1, 4, and 10 months after the intervention.

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The researchers found that, at 10 months after the intervention, compared with the NW group, patients in the EW group reported significantly lower MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) scores (P = 0.003) and higher physical component summary scores on the Short Form-36 (SF-36; P = 0.019).

Lower Impact of Event Scale scores at 1 month after the intervention in the EW group mediated the significant group differences for MDASI scores at 10 months (P = 0.042).

There were no significant between-group differences observed in the Brief Fatigue Inventory, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, or the SF-36 mental component summary.

“EW may reduce cancer-related symptoms and improve physical functioning in patients with RCC,” the researchers wrote.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Milbury K, Spelman A, Wood C, et al. Randomized Controlled Trial of Expressive Writing for Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma. J Clin Oncol. 2014; doi:10.1200/JCO.2013.50.3532.