How Video Games Can Help Cancer Patients Thrive

Video Games

You probably think that video games are nothing but bad news, but it might surprise you that they can be the polar opposite for cancer patients. Read more to find out how video games can help cancer patients to thrive.

Cancer is an awful and heart-wrenching disease for anyone to suffer with. It’s sure to put both a strain on you and your family’s lives, causing a whirlwind of emotions. A delayed diagnosis of cancer can be even more frustrating, potentially preventing quick treatment and possibly making matters worse and sometimes even irreversible.

Understandably, you might have uncertainties about what the future holds for you as a cancer patient. For starters, you might question whether you will still be able to live a normal life whilst undergoing the challenge of chemotherapy. However, you don’t have to suffer from your thoughts alone, as cancer research shows that there are still ways to help improve life as a cancer patient.

But how can you stay happy and healthy, and experience the normalities of everyday life still? Studies have shown that many cancer patients who regularly spend time playing video games are thriving due to the impact of concentrating on a screen for long periods of time. Let’s take a closer look…

What Are the Common Side Effects of Cancer Treatment?

It’s clear for anyone to see that cancer is a challenging disease to live with. It affects both you as the patient and your family and friends.

Having to put your body through a harsh treatment of chemotherapy on a regular basis can be life-altering. It can steal your energy, making you vulnerable to illness and taking control of your mental health.

Some of the common side effects of cancer treatment include:

  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss (Alopecia)
  • Nerve problems (Peripheral Neuropathy)
  • Appetite loss
  • Fertility issues
  • Nausea and Vomiting

These are just a few of the rough symptoms that treatment can cause cancer patients to suffer from. Considering these side effects, it’s important that cancer patients find ways to improve their health and wellbeing throughout treatment. But how can video games help?

Video Games 1

How Can Video Games Help Improve the Wellbeing of Cancer Patients?

Playing video games can assist in improving and/or controlling a number of the above symptoms, as well as being able to focus the mind elsewhere.

Typically, many parents voice their negative feelings towards video games and often set limits on the amount of time they allow their children to play their favorite game. However, there are many benefits for both children and adults of any age who play games.

For example, games stimulate the brain and, in some instances, can kick cancer’s butt. Some of the positive effects that video games have on the mind are:

Video games can help to ease depression and anxiety

Chemotherapy can be a traumatic process for someone to suffer through, especially with the daunting symptoms that closely lurk behind. Sometimes the effect of the treatments on the body can be too much to cope with, pushing you into a depressive and anxious state of mind which you might struggle to overcome. Fortunately, video games can help to ease anxiety and depression by distracting and focusing attention elsewhere.

Video games can improve memory and concentration

Cancer patients often struggle with focusing on tasks or remembering simple things, like where they left their right shoe. By regularly playing video games, it exercises the brain by practicing tasks over and over again and aids to stimulate brain activity, both virtually and in real-life scenarios.

Video games provide an escape

Video games can change your state of mind; they can take you to another realm where you needn’t worry about real-life problems. Rather than focusing on real-life, your entire mind is on the screen and your make-believe character and world.

Perhaps you are a genie with a magic carpet, granting incredible wishes, or maybe you are swinging through the trees in a rainforest on the moon. Whatever you are doing in your video game requires new skills for your brain to instead focus on. Your mind will be too busy to worry about life’s other problems when it must remember which button it has to press on your controller.

Video games can aid efficiency to problem-solving

Cancer treatment can often cause patients to become confused easily, struggle with multitasking, and process information longer than usual; all key elements to problem-solving.

Most video games have problems that need to be solved. Some might have different levels in a game, or another might have something go wrong which requires you to figure it out before you can move on. Games that constantly test problem-solving skills will help you overcome and sometimes reverse the damaging effects of chemotherapy treatment.

Video Games 2

How Often Should Video Games be Played a Week During Cancer Treatment?

Although we recommend playing video games during treatment, playing them every hour of the day will likely have adverse effects. If you want to thrive as a cancer patient, using video games as a treatment should only be done for a maximum of 20 minutes a day, three times a week.

This won’t overload your brain as it isn’t constant. Instead, a healthy weekly limit can help exercise the brain with memory and concentration, whilst improving problem-solving and tackling anxiety and depression.

Are You Ready to Thrive as a Cancer Patient?

You might feel like you’re suffering alone through your cancer treatment, but there are so many new remarkable discoveries to help you cope through this tough period of your life. Use the advantage of video games, watch your mind develop, and help control your chemotherapy symptoms. You can still thrive as a cancer patient because you are a warrior.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.


1 – National Cancer Institute, @nci,
2 – insung yoon, @insungyoon,
3 – Glenn Carstens-Peters, @glenncarstenspeters,

Written by
Suzie is an avid gamer and has been since 1995. She lives in the desert with her own personal minion while dreaming of pixel worlds beyond Earth.

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