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Up to 50% of breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitor therapy report musculoskeletal symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, significantly impacting treatment adherence and discontinuation rates. We conducted a secondary data analysis of a nationwide, multi-site, phase II/III randomized, controlled, clinical trial examining the efficacy of yoga for improving musculoskeletal symptoms among breast cancer survivors currently receiving hormone therapy (aromatase inhibitors [AI] or tamoxifen [TAM]). Breast cancer survivors currently receiving AI (N = 95) or TAM (N = 72) with no participation in yoga during the previous 3 months were randomized into 2 arms: (1) standard care monitoring and (2) standard care plus the 4-week yoga intervention (2x/week; 75 min/session) and included in this analysis. The yoga intervention utilized the UR Yoga for Cancer Survivors (YOCAS©(®)) program consisting of breathing exercises, 18 gentle Hatha and restorative yoga postures, and meditation. Musculoskeletal symptoms were assessed pre- and post-intervention. At baseline, AI users reported higher levels of general pain, muscle aches, and total physical discomfort than TAM users (all P ≤ 0.05). Among all breast cancer survivors on hormonal therapy, participants in the yoga group demonstrated greater reductions in musculoskeletal symptoms such as general pain, muscle aches and total physical discomfort from pre- to post-intervention than the control group (all P ≤ 0.05). The severity of musculoskeletal symptoms was higher for AI users compared to TAM users. Among breast cancer survivors on hormone therapy, the brief community-based YOCAS©® intervention significantly reduced general pain, muscle aches, and physical discomfort.
Up to 90% of cancer patients report symptoms of insomnia during and after treatment. Symptoms of insomnia include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking up too early. Insomnia symptoms are among the most prevalent, distressing and persistent cancer- and cancer treatment-related toxicities reported by patients, and can be severe enough to increase cancer morbidity and mortality. Despite the ubiquity of insomnia symptoms, they are under-screened, under-diagnosed, and under-treated in cancer patients. When insomnia symptoms are identified, providers are hesitant to prescribe, and patients are hesitant to take pharmaceuticals due to polypharmacy concerns. In addition, sleep medications do not cure insomnia. Yoga is a well-tolerated mode of exercise with promising evidence for its efficacy in improving insomnia symptoms among cancer patients. This article reviews existing clinical research on the effectiveness of yoga for treating insomnia among cancer patients. The article also provides clinical recommendations for prescribing yoga for the treatment of insomnia in this population.