The following article features coverage from the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Improvements in cancer-related fatigue (CRF) from yoga were linked to improvements in sleep quality and daytime dysfunction, concluded a presentation at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.1

The data are a secondary analysis of a phase 3 study and were presented by Po-Ju Lin, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

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The incidence of sleep disruption is between 30% and 90% during and after treatment, and between 60% and 100% of patients experience fatigue, Dr Lin noted. “This interferes with daily activity and can affect quality of life,” he said.

The study randomly assigned patients to receive standard care or standard care along with a 4-week YOCAS yoga program. YOCAS yoga was delivered twice a week in a 75-minute session.

Patients were enrolled in the study within 2 to 24 months of finishing standard cancer treatment and were required to have a persistent sleep disturbance of at least 3 on an 11-point scale (0 = no sleep disturbance; 11 = worst sleep possible).

Patients with metastatic disease, prior yoga experience, and sleep apnea were excluded from the study.

Patients were taught physical alignment postures as well as breathing and mindfulness exercises.

In this report of 321 cancer survivors, most were women (96%) and 77% had breast cancer; 168 patients were in the YOCAS yoga intervention arm and 153 received standard of care.

With a total reduction in CRF by 6.5 points, yoga improved CRF (P < .01) compared with standard care. CRF improvement was through improved sleep quality (change by 1.4 points; P < .01) and through the direct effect of yoga (reduction in CRF by 5.1 points; P < .01). This suggested that 22% of improvement in CRF was due to improvement in sleep quality.

An analysis of PSQI subscale showed that daytime dysfunction had “the most mediating effect of yoga on CRF.” Yoga improved CRF by 4.1 points (P < .01) and the mediating effect of yoga on CRF via daytime dysfunction was by 2.4 points (P < .01), suggesting that 37% improvement in CRF was due to a decrease in daytime dysfunction.

RELATED: Yoga, Meditation May Ease Menopausal Symptoms After Breast Cancer

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Lin PJ, Kleckner I, Cole C, et al. The influence of yoga on mediational relationships between sleep and cancer-related fatigue : A URCC NCORP RCT in 321 cancer patients. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35(suppl; abstr 10007).