Clinical Trials and Research Studiest at the NYU Oral Cancer Center

NYU Cancer Anxiety Study

NYU Cancer Anxiety Study

Status: Currently recruiting subjects.

PLEASE NOTE: We can no longer accept new participants for this study.  

We are looking for volunteers to participate in a scientific study exploring the effects of spiritual or mystical states of consciousness on anxiety and emotional distress associated with a diagnosis of advanced, recurrent, or potentially current or historical diagnosis of life threatening cancer.

Researchers at New York University School of Medicine and Bluestone Center for Clinical Research are conducting a scientific study using a novel drug, psilocybin, a psychoactive agent found in a specific type of mushroom and used for centuries for religious and spiritual purposes.  Entheogens, the class of plants and chemicals that includes psilocybin, have been used for thousands of years as sacraments to induce mystical or spiritual states of consciousness as part of spiritual and healing observances. 

A person receiving a diagnosis of advanced cancer is faced with multiple and severe physical, emotional, and spiritual or existential challenges.  Often, the feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and questions around meaning and spirituality contribute to more overall suffering than physical symptoms.  It is now widely believed that issues related to meaning, spirituality, anxiety, and depressed mood are at the core of the suffering that patients with advanced cancer may experience. 

Volunteers who participate in this study will receive careful medical and psychological screening, preparation, and educational materials about the details of the study.  The study will consist of two study sessions. Additional meetings will involve preparation and supportive counseling to assure comfort and safety throughout the study.  Questionnaires and interviews will be used to evaluate the effects of the study drug on mood and quality of life. This research study is fully approved by and adheres to the strict regulations of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 76, have received a diagnosis of advanced, recurrent, or potentially life threatening current or historical diagnosis of cancer, and be experiencing anxiety or mood changes secondary to their diagnosis. If you, a family member, or someone you know is interested in this study, please call the study coordinator Gabrielle Agin-Liebes, at (646) 501-4206. Confidentiality will be maintained for all applicants and participants.

Study Background: 

There have been great improvements in the understanding and treatment of cancers within the last several decades which have led to increases in survival rates. However, addressing the physical and psychological needs of individuals with advanced cancer remains an inadequately understood and understudied area of focus. In addition to the physical pain associated with advanced cancer, the process of illness progression often provokes considerable psychological distress for many that can involve anxiety, depression, anger, denial and social isolation. These psychological symptoms, in addition to issues such as loss of perceived self-worth, hopelessness, helplessness and loss of independence, have been associated with significant suffering for the patient coping with advanced-stage cancer.

Indeed, depression and hopelessness are particularly associated with a desire for hastened death in individuals with advanced cancer. The recent and prominent emergence of the discipline of palliative care has emphasized the need for research and clinical therapies to address the severe and debilitating emotional suffering associated with advanced cancer. 

If you, a family member, or someone you know is interested in this study, please contact our clinical research coordinator Gabrielle Agin-Liebes, at (646) 501-4206 . Or, fill out our contact form. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Confidentiality will be maintained for all applicants and participants.