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ASCO: Cancer Patients Get Quality of Life Boost from Yoga

Relaxation techniques may help physical function and general health during radiation treatments

MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- A yoga program that incorporates stretching, breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques can significantly improve quality of life in patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, according to research presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta.

Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues studied 61 patients, average age 52, three-quarters of whom had received chemotherapy and half of whom had undergone breast-conserving surgery. They randomly assigned the patients to attend either biweekly yoga classes during the course of radiation treatment or to a waitlist that served as the control group.

Compared to controls, women in the yoga group had significantly better quality of life (SF-36) scores for physical function (81.8 versus 68.6), general health (78.3 versus 67.9), and marginally better scores for social function (85.3 versus 67). The yoga group also had significantly lower levels of sleep-related daytime dysfunction and marginally lower levels of fatigue.

"The reported studies that incorporate yoga as a treatment for medical conditions provide some evidence for treatment efficacy, but there are few randomized, controlled studies with cancer patients reported in the literatures," Cohen said. "There have been no published studies specifically incorporating yoga into the treatment plan."

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