Breast Cancer Survivors Can Benefit from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is recommended to support survivors of breast cancer, in that it can help alleviate long-term emotional and physical adverse effects of medical treatments, including endocrine therapy, a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology published online March 19 has found.

Hoffman et al. and colleagues from the United Kingdom assessed effectiveness of MBSR in a randomized, controlled trial in 229 women with stage 0 to 3 breast cancer. Patients were randomly assigned to the eight-week MBSR program or standard care. Mood, breast- and endocrine-specific quality of life, and well-being after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy were evaluated using validated scales at weeks 0, 8, and 12.

The goal of MBSR is “to cultivate mindfulness, which is defined as bringing complete attention of the individual to the experience that occurs in the present moment in a nonjudgmental or accepting way,” the investigators wrote. “Mindfulness can be practiced as a valuable self-help technique without requiring any belief system.”

The weekly classes comprised “a body scan, gentle and appropriate lying and standing yoga-based stretches, sitting meditation, some group discussions, didactic teaching, and home practice on topics including perceptions of, and reactions to, life events, stress physiology, and mindfulness in communication and everyday life,” they noted. At home, subjects were asked to practice for 40 to 45 minutes daily for six or seven days per week.

Compared with the control group, statistically significant improvements after MBSR were observed at 8 and 12 weeks in overall mood, anxiety, depression, anger, vigor, fatigue and confusion, breast- and endocrine-related quality of life, emotional, physical, social, and role functional well-being, and general well-being.

“To our knowledge, our study is the first to show significant benefits of MBSR on mood in cancer at three months,” Hoffman et al. concluded.


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