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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.
PurposeThe Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) produced an evidence-based guideline on use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment that was determined to be relevant to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) membership. ASCO considered the guideline for endorsement.MethodsThe SIO guideline addressed the use of integrative therapies for the management of symptoms and adverse effects, such as anxiety and stress, mood disorders, fatigue, quality of life, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, lymphedema, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, pain, and sleep disturbance. Interventions of interest included mind and body practices, natural products, and lifestyle modifications. SIO systematic reviews focused on randomized controlled trials that were published from 1990 through 2015. The SIO guideline was reviewed by ASCO content experts for clinical accuracy and by ASCO methodologists for developmental rigor. On favorable review, an ASCO Expert Panel was convened to review the guideline contents and recommendations.ResultsThe ASCO Expert Panel determined that the recommendations in the SIO guidelinepublished in 2017are clear, thorough, and based on the most relevant scientific evidence. ASCO endorsed the guideline with a few added discussion points.RecommendationsKey recommendations include the following: Music therapy, meditation, stress management, and yoga are recommended for anxiety/stress reduction. Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy are recommended for depression/mood disorders. Meditation and yoga are recommended to improve quality of life. Acupressure and acupuncture are recommended for reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Acetyl-l-carnitine is not recommended to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy because of a possibility of harm. No strong evidence supports the use of ingested dietary supplements to manage breast cancer treatment-related adverse effects. Additional information is available at: www.asco.org/supportive-care-guidelines.
PURPOSE: Thirty percent to 90% of cancer survivors report impaired sleep quality post-treatment, which can be severe enough to increase morbidity and mortality. Lifestyle interventions, such as exercise, are recommended in conjunction with drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of impaired sleep. Preliminary evidence indicates that yoga-a mind-body practice and form of exercise-may improve sleep among cancer survivors. The primary aim of this randomized, controlled clinical trial was to determine the efficacy of a standardized yoga intervention compared with standard care for improving global sleep quality (primary outcome) among post-treatment cancer survivors.PATIENTS AND METHODS: In all, 410 survivors suffering from moderate or greater sleep disruption between 2 and 24 months after surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy were randomly assigned to standard care or standard care plus the 4-week yoga intervention. The yoga intervention used the Yoga for Cancer Survivors (YOCAS) program consisting of pranayama (breathing exercises), 16 Gentle Hatha and Restorative yoga asanas (postures), and meditation. Participants attended two 75-minute sessions per week. Sleep quality was assessed by using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and actigraphy pre- and postintervention. RESULTS: In all, 410 survivors were accrued (96% female; mean age, 54 years; 75% had breast cancer). Yoga participants demonstrated greater improvements in global sleep quality and, secondarily, subjective sleep quality, daytime dysfunction, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, and medication use at postintervention (all P ≤ .05) compared with standard care participants. CONCLUSION: Yoga, specifically the YOCAS program, is a useful treatment for improving sleep quality and reducing sleep medication use among cancer survivors.
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.