Anger and cancer

It is natural to feel angry when you have had a cancer diagnosis. Finding ways to help you relax and reduce stress can help.

Understanding anger and frustration

It is natural to feel angry when you have had a cancer diagnosis. You may feel angry about going through treatment and having to cope with the side effects. You may be angry if the cancer has caused you to make changes to your life. Cancer may affect your relationships, family life, work or social life.

We all show anger in different ways. Some people get impatient or shout. Others get upset and tearful. You may get angry with the people you care about. Anger can hide other feelings, such as being sad or scared.

Some people worry that certain feelings can affect cancer or recovery. Cancer is influenced by many things, including our environment, diet, genetics and physical health. Your feelings can affect the way you cope with cancer and treatment. But there is no evidence that these things affect the cancer itself.

Coping with anger

It is important not to hide your feelings if you are angry or upset. It may help to tell people that you are angry about your situation and not at them. Finding ways to relax and reduce stress can help with anger.

Try not to feel guilty about your angry thoughts or irritable moods. Anger can be a strong emotion, and you may find you can use it in a more positive way. For example, it may:

  • help you focus on what is important in your life
  • give you the determination to start something new, like a hobby or challenge.
  • If you are angry most of the time or it is starting to affect your life, you may find it helpful to talk to a counsellor or psychologist.

Getting support

Macmillan is also here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can do the following:

About our information

This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer.

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our diagnosis and staging information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    Common mental health problems: identification and pathways to care. Clinical guideline [CG123]. May 2011. Available from: (accessed November 2022).

    Depression in adults: treatment and management. NICE guideline [NG222]. June 2022. Available from: (accessed November 2022).

    Depression in adults with a chronic physical health problem: recognition and management. Clinical guideline [CG91]. October 2009.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 November 2023
Next review: 01 November 2026
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

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We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

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We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

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