Improve Cancer-Related Symptoms in Cancer Survivors with Tai Chi

Improve Cancer-Related Symptoms in Cancer Survivors with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

In terms of the evidence that’s out there and the scientific literature, practices such as tai chi have been found to help improve patients’ quality of life. There are some studies showing that these types of mind-body practices can also have an impact on physiological functioning, improving aspects of immune function and decreasing stress hormones.” – Lorenzo Cohen

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that 15 million adults and children with a history of cancer are alive in the United States today. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” National Cancer Survivors Day.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Tai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. They are very gentle and safe practices. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to take a step back and summarize what has been found in regard to Tai Chi practice for the treatment of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi and Qigong for cancer-related symptoms and quality of life: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958892/), Wayne and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in relieving cancer-related symptoms in cancer survivors. They identified 22 published research studies that included a total of 1571 cancer survivors. 15 of the studies were randomized controlled trials investigating survivors of a variety of cancers including breast, prostate lymphoma, lung, and multiple cancers.

 

They report that in general the research studies demonstrated a significant reduction in fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression , and quality of life resulting from Tai Chi practice. No significant improvements in pain were observed. No adverse events were reported. Hence, the research suggests that Tai Chi practice is a safe and effective treatment for cancer-related symptoms in cancer survivors. Tai Chi practice appears to benefit the mental and physical health of the survivors.

 

The results of the published research strongly suggests that Tai Chi  practice should be routinely prescribed for survivors of cancer. Tai Chi is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an excellent gentle practice to improve the well-being of cancer survivors.

 

So, improve cancer-related symptoms in cancer survivors with Tai Chi.

 

“Tai chi does not treat the cancer itself. Research suggests that tai chi can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, ease pain and stiffness and improve sleep. Small studies have shown that regular tai chi may help with depression and improve self-esteem. These studies have also suggested that regular practice of tai chi can improve quality of life.” – Canadian Cancer Society

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Wayne, P. M., Lee, M. S., Novakowski, J., Osypiuk, K., Ligibel, J., Carlson, L. E., & Song, R. (2017). Tai Chi and Qigong for cancer-related symptoms and quality of life: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of cancer survivorship : research and practice, 12(2), 256–267. doi:10.1007/s11764-017-0665-5

 

Abstract

Purpose

Summarize and critically evaluate the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong (TCQ) mind-body exercises on symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors.

Methods

A systematic search in 4 electronic databases targeted randomized and non-randomized clinical studies evaluating TCQ for fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression, pain, and quality of life (QOL) in cancer patients, published through August 2016. Meta-analysis was used to estimate effect sizes (ES, Hedges’ g) and publication bias for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Methodological bias in RCTs was assessed.

Results

Our search identified 22 studies, including 15 RCTs that evaluated 1283 participants in total, 75% women. RCTs evaluated breast (n=7), prostate (n=2), lymphoma (n=1), lung (n=1), or combined (n=4) cancers. RCT comparison groups included active intervention (n=7), usual care (n=5), or both (n=3). Duration of TCQ training ranged from 3 to 12 weeks. Methodological bias was low in 12 studies and high in 3 studies. TCQ was associated with significant improvement in fatigue [ES=−0.53, p<.001], sleep difficulty [ES=−0.49, p=.018], depression [ES=−0.27, p=.001], and overall QOL [ES=0.33, p=.004]; a statistically non-significant trend was observed for pain [ES=−0.38, p=.136]. Random effects models were used for meta-analysis based on Q-test and I-squared criteria. Funnel plots suggest some degree of publication bias. Findings in non-randomized studies largely paralleled meta-analysis results.

Conclusions

Larger and methodologically sound trials with longer follow-up periods and appropriate comparison groups are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn, and cancer- and symptom-specific recommendations can be made.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958892/

 

Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients with Yoga

Improve Symptoms and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Studies have shown mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients.” – Breast Cancer Research Foundation

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Yoga practice is a form of mindfulness training that is also an exercise that has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients. The research on yoga practice as a treatment for patients recovering from breast cancer has been accumulating. It is thus important to take a step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga for improving health-related quality of life, mental health and cancer-related symptoms in women diagnosed with breast cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465041/), Cramer and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga practice as a treatment for patients recovering from breast cancer. They identified 24 published research studies, 17 of which compared yoga practice to no-treatment, while 4 compared it to a psychoeducation program while 3 compared it to another exercise.

 

They found that the published research reports that in comparison to no-treatment yoga practice significantly improves health related quality of life and reduces fatigue and disturbance of sleep in women recovering from breast cancer. When compared to psychoeducation programs (4 studies), yoga practice had additional significant reductions of anxiety and depression. But, when compared to other exercise programs (3 studies), no significant effects were reported.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that yoga practice is a safe and effective treatment for women recovering from breast cancer, improving their quality of life and physical and mental well-being. The fact that these benefits were not significantly different from other forms of exercise suggests that the it’s the exercise provided by yoga that is the important aspect of the practice producing the benefits. Regardless, it is clear that yoga practice is quite helpful for the well-being of women recovering from breast cancer.

 

So, improve symptoms and quality of life in breast cancer patients with yoga.

 

“Results show promise for mindfulness-based interventions to treat common psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression in cancer survivors and to improve overall quality of life.” — Linda E. Carlson

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Klose, P., Lange, S., Langhorst, J., & Dobos, G. J. (2017). Yoga for improving health-related quality of life, mental health and cancer-related symptoms in women diagnosed with breast cancer. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 1(1), CD010802. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010802.pub2

 

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer is the cancer most frequently diagnosed in women worldwide. Even though survival rates are continually increasing, breast cancer is often associated with long‐term psychological distress, chronic pain, fatigue and impaired quality of life. Yoga comprises advice for an ethical lifestyle, spiritual practice, physical activity, breathing exercises and meditation. It is a complementary therapy that is commonly recommended for breast cancer‐related impairments and has been shown to improve physical and mental health in people with different cancer types.

Objectives

To assess effects of yoga on health‐related quality of life, mental health and cancer‐related symptoms among women with a diagnosis of breast cancer who are receiving active treatment or have completed treatment.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Breast Cancer Specialised Register, MEDLINE (via PubMed), Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2016, Issue 1), Indexing of Indian Medical Journals (IndMED), the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) search portal and Clinicaltrials.gov on 29 January 2016. We also searched reference lists of identified relevant trials or reviews, as well as conference proceedings of the International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research (ICCMR), the European Congress for Integrative Medicine (ECIM) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). We applied no language restrictions.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials were eligible when they (1) compared yoga interventions versus no therapy or versus any other active therapy in women with a diagnosis of non‐metastatic or metastatic breast cancer, and (2) assessed at least one of the primary outcomes on patient‐reported instruments, including health‐related quality of life, depression, anxiety, fatigue or sleep disturbances.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors independently collected data on methods and results. We expressed outcomes as standardised mean differences (SMDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and conducted random‐effects model meta‐analyses. We assessed potential risk of publication bias through visual analysis of funnel plot symmetry and heterogeneity between studies by using the Chi2 test and the I2 statistic. We conducted subgroup analyses for current treatment status, time since diagnosis, stage of cancer and type of yoga intervention.

Main results

We included 24 studies with a total of 2166 participants, 23 of which provided data for meta‐analysis. Thirteen studies had low risk of selection bias, five studies reported adequate blinding of outcome assessment and 15 studies had low risk of attrition bias.

Seventeen studies that compared yoga versus no therapy provided moderate‐quality evidence showing that yoga improved health‐related quality of life (pooled SMD 0.22, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.40; 10 studies, 675 participants), reduced fatigue (pooled SMD ‐0.48, 95% CI ‐0.75 to ‐0.20; 11 studies, 883 participants) and reduced sleep disturbances in the short term (pooled SMD ‐0.25, 95% CI ‐0.40 to ‐0.09; six studies, 657 participants). The funnel plot for health‐related quality of life was asymmetrical, favouring no therapy, and the funnel plot for fatigue was roughly symmetrical. This hints at overall low risk of publication bias. Yoga did not appear to reduce depression (pooled SMD ‐0.13, 95% CI ‐0.31 to 0.05; seven studies, 496 participants; low‐quality evidence) or anxiety (pooled SMD ‐0.53, 95% CI ‐1.10 to 0.04; six studies, 346 participants; very low‐quality evidence) in the short term and had no medium‐term effects on health‐related quality of life (pooled SMD 0.10, 95% CI ‐0.23 to 0.42; two studies, 146 participants; low‐quality evidence) or fatigue (pooled SMD ‐0.04, 95% CI ‐0.36 to 0.29; two studies, 146 participants; low‐quality evidence). Investigators reported no serious adverse events.

Four studies that compared yoga versus psychosocial/educational interventions provided moderate‐quality evidence indicating that yoga can reduce depression (pooled SMD ‐2.29, 95% CI ‐3.97 to ‐0.61; four studies, 226 participants), anxiety (pooled SMD ‐2.21, 95% CI ‐3.90 to ‐0.52; three studies, 195 participants) and fatigue (pooled SMD ‐0.90, 95% CI ‐1.31 to ‐0.50; two studies, 106 participants) in the short term. Very low‐quality evidence showed no short‐term effects on health‐related quality of life (pooled SMD 0.81, 95% CI ‐0.50 to 2.12; two studies, 153 participants) or sleep disturbances (pooled SMD ‐0.21, 95% CI ‐0.76 to 0.34; two studies, 119 participants). No trial adequately reported safety‐related data.

Three studies that compared yoga versus exercise presented very low‐quality evidence showing no short‐term effects on health‐related quality of life (pooled SMD ‐0.04, 95% CI ‐0.30 to 0.23; three studies, 233 participants) or fatigue (pooled SMD ‐0.21, 95% CI ‐0.66 to 0.25; three studies, 233 participants); no trial provided safety‐related data.

Authors’ conclusions

Moderate‐quality evidence supports the recommendation of yoga as a supportive intervention for improving health‐related quality of life and reducing fatigue and sleep disturbances when compared with no therapy, as well as for reducing depression, anxiety and fatigue, when compared with psychosocial/educational interventions. Very low‐quality evidence suggests that yoga might be as effective as other exercise interventions and might be used as an alternative to other exercise programmes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465041/

 

Improve Pain, Mental Health and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Improve Pain, Mental Health and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Results show promise for mindfulness-based interventions to treat common psychological problems such as anxiety, stress, and depression in cancer survivors and to improve overall quality of life.” – Linda E. Carlson

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia and reduced quality of life are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. The research is accumulating. So, it is useful to take a step back and look at what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review: Mindfulness Intervention for Cancer-Related Pain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371675/), Ngamkham and colleagues review and summarize the high quality published research literature on the application of mindfulness training for the treatment of cancer related pain. They found 6 randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs). These studies used Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Breathing Meditation, or Mindful Awareness Practice (MAP) programs as treatments.

 

They found that the published research reports that mindfulness training produces a significant reduction in cancer related pain that was still present 6-months after the training. The research also found significant reductions in anxiety and depression and significant increases in the patient’s quality of life. Hence, mindfulness training was found to be a safe and effective treatment for patients suffering with cancer related pain.

 

It is not known exactly how mindfulness training produces these benefits. It has been shown, however, that in healthy individuals, mindfulness training also produces reductions in pain, anxiety, and depression. It is thought that one way mindfulness training reduces is by reducing worry and rumination which is thought to amplify pain. Mindfulness training has also been shown to improve emotion regulation and reduce response to stress that may also contribute to pain reduction. Regardless mindfulness training should be recommended for cancer patients to reduce pain and improve their well-being.

 

So, improve pain, mental health and quality of life in cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

“Fear. Uncertainty about the future. Some of the most difficult elements of the cancer experience are well-suited for mindfulness.” – Lu Hanessian

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ngamkham, S., Holden, J. E., & Smith, E. L. (2019). A Systematic Review: Mindfulness Intervention for Cancer-Related Pain. Asia-Pacific journal of oncology nursing, 6(2), 161–169. doi:10.4103/apjon.apjon_67_18

 

Abstract

Moderate-to-severe pain is a common problem experienced by patients with cancer. Although analgesic drugs are effective, adverse side effects are common and some analgesic drugs are addictive. Nonpharmacological treatment may be a way to treat cancer pain without causing negative side effects. Mindfulness is used as an effective nonpharmacological treatment to improve quality of life (QoL) and to address psychological problems including distress, anxiety, stress, and depression. However, the effect of mindfulness on pain severity has not been sufficiently investigated. Therefore, a systematic review was undertaken to describe the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for pain and its underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms. The search was conducted in PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, and CINAHL and included only empirical studies published from 2008 to 2017. Search terms included mindfulness, mindfulness-based intervention, meditation, cancer, pain, and cancer-related pain. Six studies met the search criteria. These studies tested several types of intervention including mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, meditation with massage, and mindful awareness practices. Study outcomes include improved pain severity, anxiety, stress, depression, and QoL. However, most studies reviewed were conducted in the United States and Denmark. Further research is needed to test culturally appropriate mindfulness interventions to reduce pain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371675/

 

Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors with Exercise or Yoga

Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors with Exercise or Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In studies of women with breast cancer, yoga has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve quality of sleep, physical vitality, and overall quality of life.” – BreastCancer.org

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Yoga practice is a form of mindfulness training that has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients. But yoga practice is both a mindfulness practice and an exercise. It is unclear whether the benefits of yoga practice for cancer patients is due to its mindfulness or exercise components or both. The research has been accumulating. It is thus important to take a step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga-Specific Enhancement of Quality of Life Among Women With Breast Cancer: Systematic Review and Exploratory Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388460/ ), El-Hashimi and Gorey review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga for improving the quality of life in survivors of breast cancer. They found and report on 8 randomized controlled trials that included a comparison to another exercise program.

 

They report that the research demonstrated that exercise practices including yoga produce significant improvements in quality of life for the breast cancer patients that are still present as much as a year later. But yoga practice was not significantly better than other exercise programs in improving the quality of life. It would appear that the fact that yoga practice is an exercise and not its mindfulness aspect is critical for the improvement in the quality of life of breast cancer patients.

 

So, improve quality of life in breast cancer survivors with exercise or yoga.

 

“Yoga, meditation, and breathing practices allow women with breast cancer to explore their emotions, foster mindful empathy, and cope with fatigue and tightness,” – Sierra Campbell

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

El-Hashimi, D., & Gorey, K. M. (2019). Yoga-Specific Enhancement of Quality of Life Among Women With Breast Cancer: Systematic Review and Exploratory Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 24, 2515690X19828325.

 

Abstract

Physical activities during and after cancer treatment have favorable psychosocial effects. Increasingly, yoga has become a popular approach to improving the quality of life (QoL) of women with breast cancer. However, the extant synthetic evidence on yoga has not used other exercise comparison conditions. This meta-analysis aimed to systematically assess yoga-specific effects relative to any other physical exercise intervention (eg, aerobics) for women with breast cancer. QoL was the primary outcome of interest. Eight randomized controlled trials with 545 participants were included. The sample-weighted synthesis at immediate postintervention revealed marginally statistically and modest practically significant differences suggesting yoga’s potentially greater effectiveness: d = 0.14, P = .10. However, at longer term follow-up, no statistically or practically significant between-group difference was observed. This meta-analysis preliminarily demonstrated that yoga is probably as effective as other exercise modalities in improving the QoL of women with breast cancer. Both interventions were associated with clinically significant improvements in QoL. Nearly all of the yoga intervention programs, however, were very poorly resourced. Larger and better controlled trials of well-endowed yoga programs are needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388460/

 

Improve Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Yoga

Improve Sleep in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Sleep disturbance is a common problem for women with breast cancer, and can have a variety of causes, from stress and depression related to the treatment or diagnosis, to a side effect of some of the drugs and anti-nausea medications used in chemotherapy regimens. Yoga not only produced benefits in the short term, it also produced benefits in sleep quality three months and six months after treatment.” – Paul Raeburn

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Yoga practice is a form of mindfulness training that has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients.  In today’s Research News article “Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735004/ ), Chaoul and colleagues examine the ability of yoga practice to improve sleep in breast cancer patients.

 

They recruited patients with Stage 1 to 3 breast cancer scheduled to undergo chemotherapy. They were randomly assigned to usual care or to either receive a Tibetan Yoga Program or a stretching program. Participants met for 4, 75 to 90-minute, sessions during chemotherapy and 3 booster sessions over the next 6 months. The participants were also encouraged to practice at home. The Tibetan Yoga Program consisted of “1) mindfulness and focused attention through guided meditation with breathing and visualization; 2) an alternate nostril breathing practice and a breath retention exercise; 3) Tsa Lung movements; and 4) closing with a brief compassion-based meditation.” The participants were measured before and after the programs and 3, 6, and 12 months later for sleep quality, fatigue, and actigraph measured sleep patterns.

 

They found that all groups improved in sleep quality and fatigue over the 12-month measurement period. But the Tibetan Yoga group had significantly less daily sleep disturbances and fewer minutes awake before sleep onset. Hence, participation in the Tibetan Yoga Program had modest benefits for the quality of sleep for the patients. The Tibetan Yoga Program contains a number of different components including meditation, postures, and breathing exercises. It is impossible to determine in the current study which components or which combinations of components were necessary and sufficient for the benefits.

 

These results are encouraging but not clinically significant as the effects were very modest. But,

it should be kept in mind that yoga and meditation programs have been shown to improve a number of other impacts of breast cancer diagnosis and survival. So, the total impact of participation in yoga for breast cancer patients may be much greater than implied by the current results.

 

So, improve sleep in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with yoga.

 

“it is encouraging to see that the women who practiced yoga outside of class had improved sleep outcomes over time. Previous research has established that yoga effectively reduces sleep disturbances for cancer patients, but have not included active control groups or long-term follow-up.” – Lorenzo Cohen

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chaoul, A., Milbury, K., Spelman, A., Basen-Engquist, K., Hall, M. H., Wei, Q., Shih, Y. T., Arun, B., Valero, V., Perkins, G. H., Babiera, G. V., Wangyal, T., Engle, R., Harrison, C. A., Li, Y., … Cohen, L. (2017). Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Cancer, 124(1), 36-45.

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND

This randomized trial examined the effects of a Tibetan yoga program (TYP) versus a stretching program (STP) and usual care (UC) on sleep and fatigue in women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

METHODS

Women with stage I–III breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy were randomized to TYP (n=74), STP (n=68), or UC (n=85) groups. Participants in the TYP and STP groups participated in 4 sessions during chemotherapy, followed by three booster sessions over the subsequent 6 months, and encouraged to practice at home. Self-report measures of sleep disturbances (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) fatigue (Brief Fatigue Inventory), and actigraphy were collected at baseline, 1-week post-treatment, and 3, 6 and 12 months.

RESULTS

There were no group differences in total sleep disturbances or fatigue levels over time. However, patients in TYP reported fewer daily disturbances 1-week post-treatment than STP (difference=−0.43, 95% CI: −0.82, −0.04, P=0.03) and UC (difference=−0.41, 95.5% CI: −0.77, −0.05, P=0.02). Group differences at the other time points were maintained for TYP versus STP. Actigraphy data revealed greater minutes awake after sleep onset for STP 1-week post treatment versus TYP (difference=15.36, 95% CI: 7.25,23.48, P=0.0003) and UC (difference=14.48, 95% CI: 7.09,21.87, P=0.0002). Patients in TYP who practiced at least two times a week during follow-up reported better PSQI and actigraphy outcomes at 3 and 6 months post-treatment than those who did not and better than those in UC.

CONCLUSIONS

Participating in TYP during chemotherapy resulted in modest short-term benefits in sleep quality, with long-term benefits emerging over time for those who practiced TYP at least two times a week.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5735004/

 

Increase Positive Feelings About Caregiving for Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Increase Positive Feelings About Caregiving for Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“caregivers of cancer patients face under-recognized health challenges. “Studies have suggested that caregivers are more depressed than patients themselves. There is also a reciprocal relationship between caregivers and patients, so improving quality of life for caregivers could improve patient outcomes.” – Sarah Stanley

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the U.S. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is mentally or physically ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost to the caregiver. It exacts a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality.

 

Family members are an increasingly important source of caregiving. But it comes with a cost to the caregiver. Mindfulness training has been shown to be beneficial for both the caregiver and the patients. So, mindfulness training may be helpful in decreasing the psychological difficulty of caring for a patient with cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful Learning Improves Positive Feelings of Cancer Patients’ Family Caregivers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352041/ ), Geng and colleagues recruited caregivers for cancer patients and randomly assigned them to receive either 4, 30-minute, mindfulness training sessions or mindlessness training. The mindfulness training involved “innovation classification” in which they were asked to “think and write four answers from different perspectives to a picture-related question.” The mindlessness condition involved writing answers to the same pictures but from only one perspective. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness, caregiver reactions, and positive aspects of caregiving.

 

They found in comparison to baseline and the mindlessness group, that after training the mindfulness group had significantly higher mindfulness and positive feelings toward caregiving. In addition, the higher the levels of mindfulness, the greater the positive feelings toward caregiving.

 

These results suggest that a simple form of mindfulness training can improve caregiver’s mindfulness and feeling about caregiving for cancer patients. It remains for future research to demonstrate if these benefits are lasting and can result in improved care for the patients and less stress and burnout for the caregivers.

 

So, increase positive feelings about caregiving for cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

“We are set up for short-term stress, but caregiving is long-term stress. Mindfulness is basically coming back into the present moment, so it works to inhibit the stress response. Most of us run around listening to our thoughts, and this is particularly true of caregivers, who are driven by the to-do list. They are never at rest.” – Joan Griffiths Vega

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Geng, L., Wang, J., Cheng, L., Zhang, B., & Shen, H. (2019). Mindful Learning Improves Positive Feelings of Cancer Patients’ Family Caregivers. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(2), 248. doi:10.3390/ijerph16020248

 

Abstract

Positive feelings are an important health dimension for family caregivers of cancer patients. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Langerian mindfulness is a valid proactive method to increase the positive feelings of family caregivers for cancer patients. Participants were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness group or a mindlessness group and completed the Caregiver Reaction Assessment (CRA) as a measure of caregivers’ feelings before the intervention. Subsequently, both groups were given four sessions of mindfulness training using “innovation classification”. Finally, participants completed the Langer Mindfulness Scale (LMS) and the Positive Aspects of Caregiving (PAC) scale as post-intervention measures. The results revealed that participants in the mindfulness and mindlessness groups differed significantly in LMS and PAC scores, with the mindfulness group having higher levels of positive feelings than those in the mindlessness group. The results also indicated that mindfulness level significantly predicted positive feelings of caregivers. Thus mindful interventions may play a meaningful role in promoting family caregivers’ spirituality and faith, improving the willingness of sharing their thoughts, beliefs, and grief, which could be useful for increasing the positive feelings of caregivers.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352041/

 

Improve the Psychological Health of Thyroid Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Thyroid Cancer Patients with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

It turns out that some of the most difficult elements of the cancer experience are very well-suited to a mindfulness practice. When a person gets diagnosed, there’s fear and uncertainty about the future. There’s the loss of routine and predictability. There’s the physical aspect, the treatment or surgery, pain, insomnia, which almost everybody gets, and the post-treatment fatigue. A lot of people find the hardest time is from active treatment to survivorship or post-treatment period where all of a sudden, it’s time to get back to one’s life, but what’s the new normal? For many people, it’s a catalyst or transition period. They look at their life and wonder what’s important. What are my values? What does an authentic life look like? What brings me meaning and purpose?” – Linda Carlson

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. In the case of Thyroid cancer that number is over 95%. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia and reduced quality of life are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based stress reduction in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer receiving radioactive iodine therapy: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324610/ ), Liu and colleagues recruited patients with Thyroid cancer who were receiving radioactive iodine treatment and randomly assigned them to either a usual care control condition or to receive a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) treatment. The MBSR program consists of 8 weekly 2-hour group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients are also encouraged to perform daily practice for 15-45 minutes. They were measured before and after treatment and 3 months later for cancer specific quality of life, depression, and anxiety.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment as usual control group, the patients who participated in MBSR treatment had significantly improved overall cancer specific quality of life, including emotional function and fatigue, and they reported significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression. Importantly, these improvements were still present and significant 3 months after the conclusion of treatment.

 

These are impressive results that suggest that mindfulness training produces significant and lasting benefits for the psychological well-being of Thyroid cancer patients. These patients have a lot to deal with in fighting their disease. The improvements in psychological well-being are important producing relief of one aspect of cancer so that the patient can better focus on the physical side. These results add Thyroid cancer patients to the growing list of cancer patients helped by mindfulness training.

 

So, improve the psychological health of thyroid cancer patients with mindfulness.

 

“MBSR can help to relieve particular symptoms and improve quality of life for people with cancer. It might, improve mood, improve concentration, reduce depression and anxiety, reduce symptoms and side effects, such as feeling sick (nausea), boost the immune system. . . There is no evidence that meditation can help to prevent, treat or cure cancer, or any other disease.” – Cancer Research UK

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu, T., Zhang, W., Xiao, S., Xu, L., Wen, Q., Bai, L., Ma, Q., … Ji, B. (2019). Mindfulness-based stress reduction in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer receiving radioactive iodine therapy: a randomized controlled trial. Cancer management and research, 11, 467-474. doi:10.2147/CMAR.S183299

 

Abstract

Objective

The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on health-related quality of life (QoL), depression, and anxiety in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) receiving radioactive iodine therapy (RIT).

Patients and methods

A randomized controlled trial of MBSR with 120 DTC patients was performed. They were randomly assigned into the MBSR intervention group and usual care (UC) group. An 8-week MBSR program was administered to the MBSR group starting 8 weeks before RIT. Health-related QoL, depression, and anxiety were measured immediately before the start of MBSR (T1), immediately after RIT hospitalization was concluded (1 week after concluding the last MBSR session, T2), and 3 months after RIT hospitalization (T3), using the QoL Questionnaire Core 30 Items (QLQ-C30), Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS), and Self-rating Anxiety Scale (SAS).

Results

Fifty-three patients in the UC group and 49 patients in the MBSR group completed the study and were analyzed. Both the UC and MBSR groups reported low QoL and high SDS and SAS scores immediately after RIT hospitalization. Patients randomly assigned to the MBSR group showed significantly greater improvements in emotional function (P=0.012, d=–0.03 for T2 and d=1.17 for T3), fatigue (P=0.037, d=1.00 for T2 and d=–0.69 for T3), global QoL (P=0.015, d=1.61 for T2 and d=1.56 for T3), depression (P=0.027, d=–1.19 for T2 and d=–0.83 for T3), and anxiety (P=0.043, d=–1.00 for T2 and d=–0.86 for T3).

Conclusion

An 8-week MBSR program significantly improved a wide range of scales in health-related QoL and mitigated depression and anxiety among DTC patients receiving RIT.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324610/

 

Sleep and Fatigue is not Improved in Prostate Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy with Qigong/Tai Chi Exercise

Sleep and Fatigue is not Improved in Prostate Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy with Qigong/Tai Chi Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“While most studies to date fail to show that qigong has a direct effect on cancer, several studies have found this practice to have a positive impact on the well-being and quality of life for people living with cancer.” – Lynne Eldridge

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis.

 

But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that 15 million adults and children with a history of cancer are alive in the United States today. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” National Cancer Survivors Day.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression.. Tai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. Qigong is a very gentle and safe practice. So, it makes sense to further study its utility for cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Qigong/tai chi for sleep and fatigue in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy: a randomized controlled trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378667/ ), McQuade and colleagues recruited prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and randomly assigned them to one of three conditions; Qigong/Tai Chi; light exercise; or wait-list control. The Qigong/Tai Chi and light exercise training occurred three times per week for 40 minutes during radiotherapy treatment. Light exercise consisted of stretching and light resistance exercise matched to the exertion level of the Qigong/Tai Chi exercise. They were measured before, during, and after treatment and 1 and 3 months later for sleep disturbance, fatigue, and health-related quality of life.

 

They found that midway through treatment the Qigong/Tai Chi group slept better than the other groups but these differences were not maintained at the end of treatment or on follow-up. There were no significant effects or treatment on fatigue or quality of life. In some ways these results are disappointing and suggest that Qigong/Tai Chi is not effective in helping prostate cancer patients during radiotherapy.

 

Radiotherapy, however, produces considerable side effects including hot flashes and urinary symptoms that are highly predictive of sleep disturbance, fatigue, and quality of life. In addition, Qigong/Tai Chi exercise has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue in other cancer patients after treatment. It will require future research to determine if Qigong/Tai Chi exercise conducted after radiotherapy is completed may be beneficial for these patients.

 

“Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient forms of exercise that fit the bill for helping patients with cancer get moving and improve their overall sense of well-being. Tai Chi practice can help with pain conditions, especially pain involving muscles and joints; it can also reduce stress and anxiety and improve the quality of sleep.” – Susan Yaguda

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

McQuade, J. L., Prinsloo, S., Chang, D. Z., Spelman, A., Wei, Q., Basen-Engquist, K., Harrison, C., Zhang, Z., Kuban, D., Lee, A., … Cohen, L. (2016). Qigong/tai chi for sleep and fatigue in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy: a randomized controlled trial. Psycho-oncology, 26(11), 1936-1943.

 

Abstract

Objectives

Sleep disturbances and fatigue are common in prostate cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy. Prior research suggests mind-body techniques may improve these outcomes. We conducted a randomized-controlled trial of qigong/tai chi (QGTC) in men with prostate cancer undergoing radiotherapy.

Methods

Men with prostate cancer starting definitive radiation were randomized to one of three groups: (1) QGTC; (2) light exercise (LE); or (3) wait list control (WLC). Sleep disturbances (PSQI) and fatigue (BFI) were assessed at baseline, mid-radiotherapy (T2), during the last week of radiotherapy (T3) and at 1 (T4) and 3 months (T5) after the end of radiotherapy. Patients in the QGTC and LE groups attended three 40-minute classes per week throughout radiotherapy.

Results

Ninety patients were randomized to the three groups (QGTC=26; LE=26; WLC=24). QGTC group reported longer sleep duration at mid-XRT (QGTC=7.01 hours; LE=6.42; WL=6.50; p=0.05) but this difference did not persist over time. There were no group differences in other domains of sleep or fatigue. Exploratory analyses conducted to examine the effect of health-related QOL (EPIC and AUA score) on sleep and fatigue showed significant correlations across multiple domains.

Conclusions

QGTC during radiation for prostate cancer resulted in superior sleep duration midway through radiation, but this effect was not durable and there were no differences in other domains of sleep or fatigue. Exploratory analysis demonstrated that both sleep and fatigue were highly correlated with prostate cancer related physical symptoms. Future mind-body intervention studies should incorporate multi-modal therapy focused on improving physical symptoms in this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378667/

 

Improve the Mental Health of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve the Mental Health of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based meditation can help ease the stress, anxiety, fear, and depression that often come along with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.” – BreastCancer,org

 

About 12.5% of women in the U.S. develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetimes and every year about 40,000 women die. Indeed, more women in the U.S. die from breast cancer than from any other cancer, besides lung cancer. Breast cancer diagnosis, however, is not always a death sentence. Death rates have been decreasing for decades from improved detection and treatment of breast cancer. Five-year survival rates are now at around 95%. The improved survival rates mean that more women are now living with cancer.

 

Surviving cancer, however, carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” (National Cancer Survivors Day). Also, breast cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. This is particularly true with metastatic cancer. Additionally, cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, an alteration of their body image, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in breast cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery and breast cancer recovery. Mindfulness helps to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Hence, there is a need to intensively study the effectiveness of these programs to help alleviate the mental and physical sequelae of breast cancer survival.

 

In today’s Research News article “Investigating the Effect of Mindfulness-Based Training on Psychological Status and Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165667/ ), Pouy and colleagues recruited women with diagnosed breast cancer at least 6 months after diagnosis and randomly assigned them to either receive either routine care plus 4 weeks of twice a week for 1.5 hours group based mindfulness training or routine care only. The mindfulness training was based upon the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program that includes body scan and focused meditations, yoga practice, and discussion. They were measured before the training and 2 months later for anxiety, depression, stress, physical health, mental health, social relationships, environmental health, quality of life, and life expectancy questionnaire.

 

They found that after the mindfulness training the breast cancer survivors had significantly improved quality of life and life expectancy and significantly less anxiety, depression, and stress. Hence, mindfulness training was found to be of great benefit to the patients, improving their quality of life and psychological health. These findings are similar to previous findings that mindfulness training reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and improves quality of life in cancer patients. The current study adds to the accumulating scientific evidence that mindfulness practice significantly beneficial for breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve the mental health of breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients. Scientists caution, however that sustained benefit requires ongoing mindfulness practice.” – BCRF

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Pouy, S., Attari Peikani, F., Nourmohammadi, H., Sanei, P., Tarjoman, A., & Borji, M. (2018). Investigating the Effect of Mindfulness-Based Training on Psychological Status and Quality of Life in Patients with Breast Cancer. Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention : APJCP, 19(7), 1993-1998. doi:10.22034/APJCP.2018.19.7.1993

 

Abstract

Cancer poses substantial challenges to both physical and mental health of patients. On the other hand, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Iranian women. Therefore, the present study was conducted to investigate the effect of mindfulness-based training on psychological status and quality of life (QoL) of patients with breast cancer living in Ilam, Iran. This quasi-experimental study was performed on 66 patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The patients assigned into two groups of experimental and control. Experimental group received mindfulness-based group training through eight 90-min sessions. Sessions were conducted twice a week and were completed within 1 month. The research tools included a QoL questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF), Schneider’s life expectancy questionnaire, and the depression anxiety stress scale (DASS-21). The questionnaires were completed before and during the interviews with the patients 2 months after intervention. Data were analyzed using SPSS (version 16) and running descriptive and analytical statistics. Before the intervention, there was no significant difference between he experimental and control groups considering QoL, life expectancy, depression, anxiety, and stress (p>0.05). However, after the intervention, the patients in the experimental group reported higher QoL and life expectancy and less severe depression, anxiety, and stress (p < 0.05). Considering the positive effect of mindfulness-based training on the psychological status and QoL of patients with breast cancer, we recommend health nurses conduct mindfulness-based training for patients receiving clinical care services.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165667/

 

Improve Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program yields robust and sustained improvement in cancer-related cognitive impairment, a prevalent and potentially debilitating condition that affects attention, memory and executive function in survivors.” – ScienceDaily

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Cognitive impairments are a frequent side effect of cancer treatment. This has been dubbed “chemo brain.” Patients often refer to it as a mental cloudiness.

 

The patients report problems including forgetting things, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering details like names and dates, trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, taking longer to finish things, disorganized and slower thinking, and trouble remembering common words. These cognitive impairments generally produce problems with work and even social relationships such that patients tend to isolate themselves. They can also produce treatment problems as the patients often forget to take their medications.

 

These problems result from the fact that chemotherapy, radiation therapy and many cancer drugs directly affect the nervous system. At present, there are no known treatments for these cognitive impairment side effects of chemotherapy. Contemplative practices have been shown to affect memory and have positive effects on cancer treatment and recovery.  There is some evidence that contemplative practices may be useful for the alleviation of “chemo brain” symptoms. So, it makes sense to step back and review what is known regarding the ability of mindfulness training to improve the cancer patient’s cognitive abilities.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based interventions and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6260900/ ), Cifu and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the cognitive deficits present after recovery from breast cancer. They identified 6 studies; 5 of which were randomized controlled studies and 4 of which used the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

 

They found mixed results from the studies but the majority found that mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the cognitive abilities of the patients. The 2 studies that reported follow-up data demonstrated that the improvements were sustained 2 and 6 months after the end of the program. These mixed findings suggest that mindfulness training may be useful in treating the problems with thinking, memory, and attention that result from treatment for breast cancer, but more research is needed to reach firm conclusions.

 

It is not known what the mechanism might be by which mindfulness training relieves these cognitive impairments. But it has been previously demonstrated that mindfulness training improves cognition in healthy and aging populations by changing the brain, particularly the frontal cortical regions. It is possible that this is the same phenomenon only with breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve cognitive function in breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may improve cognitive function in breast and colorectal cancer survivors.” Neurology Advisor

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cifu, G., Power, M. C., Shomstein, S., & Arem, H. (2018). Mindfulness-based interventions and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors: a systematic review. BMC cancer, 18(1), 1163. doi:10.1186/s12885-018-5065-3

 

Abstract

Background

Breast cancer survivors have an elevated risk of cognitive impairment compared to age-matched women without cancer. Causes of this impairment are complex, including both treatment and psychological factors. Mindfulness-based interventions, which have been shown to improve cognitive function in the general population, may be one approach to mitigate cognitive impairment in this survivor population. Our objective was to conduct a systematic literature review of studies on the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition among breast cancer survivors.

Methods

We conducted searches of three electronic databases (Scopus, PubMed and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) in September 2017 for studies pertaining mindfulness and cognitive function among breast cancer survivors. Abstracts were manually searched by two reviewers and additional articles were identified through reference lists.

Results

A total of 226 articles were identified through our systematic search and six met inclusion criteria for this review. The reviewed studies lacked consistency in terms of the cognition domains studied (e.g. executive function, recent memory, etc) and in the measures used to assess cognition. Of the included studies, two found no association between mindfulness interventions and cognitive function, two found improvement that was not sustained at the follow-up, and another two found sustained improvement at 2- or 6-months.

Conclusions

Mindfulness-based interventions have shown some evidence for improving cognition among breast cancer survivors, but further research using validated and comprehensive cognitive assessments is needed. More research is also needed related to the timing, duration and content of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6260900/