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Yoga Helpful DuringTreatment for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer patients who participate in a yoga program during treatment have improved quality of life, compared to patients who do not.

Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, were one of the first to incorporate yoga as part of a treatment plan for cancer patients.

"Cancer and its treatments are associated with considerable distress, impaired quality of life and reduced physical function. This is particularly true for women with breast cancer who receive multi-modality treatment over an extended period of time," Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., associate professor, says.
Sixty-one women with breast cancer undergoing radiation were randomized to participate in the yoga classes twice weekly at, or around, the time of their radiation appointments, or, as the control group, to be offered yoga post-treatment.

The yoga program was designed specifically for this patient population - emphasizing breathing and relaxation, and excluding some positions, for example, that would be difficult, given the patients' possible weakened range of motion.

After just one week of yoga and radiation, the patients reported significantly increased physical function, as well as general health, compared to the control group. The study participants also reported marginally better social functioning, significantly lower levels of sleep-related daytime dysfunction, as well as marginally lower levels of fatigue overall. However, no differences in the level of depression or anxiety were found between the two groups.

"It was gratifying to see that we could make a clinically significant difference in these quality of life of these women in such a brief program," says Kavita Chandwani, M.D., yoga instructor and co-investigator responsible for overseeing the trial.

"Whether it's yoga or some other type of mind-body program, we believe this study shows how beneficial it is to participate throughout treatment to help with quality of life-based issues."