The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) has published updated clinical guidelines encompassing the benefits of mind-body therapies, such as meditation and yoga, during and after breast cancer treatment. The guidelines are based on a systematic evaluation of peer-reviewed randomized clinical trials focusing on 80 alternative practices.
Among the many mind-body therapies currently available, researchers at Columbia University in New York have identified the most effective practices to include in treatment protocols to help improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients and reduce the side-effects of treatment.
Published in “A Cancer Journal for Clinicians,” a publication of the American Cancer Society, the research identifies meditation as the technique with the strongest evidence to support its use as a supportive care measure. It is recommended for reducing anxiety, treating symptoms of depression and improving quality of life. This evaluation is based on results from five trials.
The researchers assigned letter grades to therapies based on the strength of evidence. Meditation was graded “A” and music therapy, yoga and massage were graded “B” for the same symptoms, as well as for mood disorders.
For quality of life, yoga was graded “B” on the basis of two recent clinical trials. Yoga and hypnosis were also graded “C” for reducing fatigue.
Acupressure and acupuncture for nausea
The use of acupressure and acupuncture was identified as beneficial for reducing nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
However, there was a lack of evidence to support the use of dietary supplements and natural botanical products as part of supportive care or to manage breast cancer treatment side effects.
“The routine use of yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and passive music therapy to address common mental health concerns among patients with breast cancer is supported by high levels of evidence,” said study co-author Debu Tripathy, MD, chair of Breast Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and a past president of SIO.
“Given the indication of benefit coupled with the relatively low level of risk, these therapies can be offered as a routine part of patient care, especially when symptoms are not well controlled.”
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