Meditation helps ease pains for breast cancer survivors

A new study through USF Health looked into the benefits of meditation and yoga on breast cancer survivors, showing improved quality of life and symptom relief for participants. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

A new study has shown that non-pharmaceutical treatment such as yoga and meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety and physical pain in breast cancer survivors.

Cecile Lengacher, professor and pre-doctoral fellowship program director at USF College of Nursing, led a study about mindfulness-based stress reduction for breast cancer survivors (MBSR(BC)). 

The study found the use of MBSR-reduced psychological and physical systems in participants as well as improving their quality of life.

“The results of this study are crucial for breast cancer survivors and their overall health,” Lengacher said. “As the largest identified randomized controlled trial yet, MBSR(BC) showed simultaneous effects on multiple symptoms and outcomes — an important contribution to clinical treatment.”

The National Cancer Institute funded the study, and the findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The research team recruited 322 breast cancer survivors who had completed between two weeks and two years before. They were separated into the control, or usual care, group and the MBSR(BC) group.

The MBSR(BC) group attended a mixture of group interaction and practice techniques including sitting and walking medication, yoga and body scan for 12 weeks. Researchers assessed participants’ psychological and physical condition as well as their quality of life at the beginning, middle and end of the study.

They found that symptoms such as anxiety, fear of cancer recurrence, fatigue and pain decreased over the course of the study in participants from the MBSR group. 

Lengacher received a $2.8 million grant from NCI to continue her research with breast cancer survivors by focusing on memory and concentration using MBSR treatment.

“There are more than 14.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States,” Lengacher said. “These numbers show the need for more research on interventions that may help alleviate distressing psychological and physical symptoms experienced by these survivors. Our team of researchers … is committed to conducting more research and collecting more data — to help improve the health and well-being of those effected by breast cancer.”