Mindfulness Improves Psychological and Physical Outcomes in Breast Cancer Survivors

Sept. 30, 2016

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Take-Home Message:

Breast cancer survivors who were guided in mindfulness-based activities had improved life qualities.

 

Examination of Broad Symptom Improvement Resulting From Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Authors: Lengacher, C. A. et. al.
Source: J Clin Oncol. 2016 May 31. pii: JCO657874. (ePub ahead of print)
jco.ascopubs.org/content/34/24/2827

These investigators noted that, although breast cancer survivors (BCSs) are living longer, they are prone to experience late effects of their disease and/or treatment. These effects, such as depression, anxiety, fear of recurrence, physical pain and fatigue may affect daily activities.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) holds great promise for decreasing fatigue, pain and sleep disturbance among BCSs. The group anticipated that MBSR would improve both physical and psychological symptoms of BCSs.

Over 300 women aged 21 or older were enrolled in this study. They had diagnoses of stage 0 to III breast cancer and were 2 weeks to 2 years out from treatment completion. Randomization was to a MBSR group or to usual care (UC). MBSR intervention consisted of 6 weeks of a weekly session with an MBSR-trained psychologist, educational materials, meditation practice sessions, support for application of practice to daily life and group support. UC intervention consisted of standard post-treatment clinic visits. These women were offered MBSR at the completion of the study.

Physical and psychological symptoms and quality of life were assessed by questionnaires given at 6 and 12 weeks after the start of the study. Women assigned to MBSR showed significant improvement in anxiety, fear of recurrence and fatigue. There was a trend for quality of life improvement, but it did not reach statistical significance.

This study demonstrates that MBSR has beneficial effects on BCSs. These effects are wide-ranging and endure after a relatively long period of time.