In a nutshell
This trial compared the effects of different support groups for distressed breast cancer patients.
Cancer diagnosis and treatments are known to be a major cause of depression and distress. Among breast cancer survivors, the risk of tumor recurrence and frequent screening contribute to patient stress and depression long after the conclusion of cancer treatments. As a result, many support groups for cancer patients have emerged to help cope with emotional stress during and after treatments. This trial compared the effect of different support groups for breast cancer patients suffering from distress and anxiety after the completion of treatments. Three types of support methods were investigated in this study; a mindfulness based cancer recovery (MBCR) group, based on yoga and meditation, a supportive expressive therapy (SET) group, based on emotional expression, group and family support, and a one day stress management seminar (SMS) group.
Methods & findings
271 women diagnosed with breast cancer were assigned to one of three support groups after completion of all cancer treatments. Assessment of stress and anxiety levels were performed at the beginning and end of the trial using specialized questioners as well as measurements of cortisol levels throughout the day (cortisol is a steroid hormone released by the body during stress, and high cortisol levels have previously been associated with worse prognosis among breast cancer patients).
Overall, significantly greater reductions in cortisol levels were associated with mindfulness based cancer recovery and supportive expressive therapy compared to participation in the one day stress management seminar. Participant questioners reported the greatest reductions in stress levels among participants of the mindfulness based cancer recovery program. Participation in mindfulness based cancer recovery sessions were also associated with significant improvements in quality of life, social support and emotional functioning, compared with other interventions.
The bottom line
This study concluded that a mindfulness based cancer recovery program, based on yoga and meditation, is effective for reducing stress and anxiety, as well as circulating cortisol levels, among breast patients.
The fine print
Although this trial included only cancer survivors, patients recently diagnosed or currently undergoing treatment could also significantly benefit from support groups intended to improve quality of life and reduce anxiety.
Consult with your physician regarding support programs proven to reduce stress and improve quality of life among cancer patients.
Published By :
Journal of clinical oncology
Aug 05, 2013
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