Yoga to combat fatigue among cancer patients

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Supportive care is becoming increasingly important in the treatment of cancer. And its evaluation is developing. At the Conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, an American study showed that for patients being treated for cancer, yoga provides a way of combating the fatigue that often accompanies treatment.

The YOCAS study – which stands for Yoga for Cancer Survivors – was based on 410 patients with early stage cancer. Professor Karen Mustian’s team from the University of Rochester studied the effects of yoga on sleep.

Indeed, many patients being treated for cancer suffer from sleep problems, often accompanied by diurnal somnolence, and this can impact significantly on their quality of life.

Participants in the study were divided into two groups. The first group took part in yoga sessions for four weeks; the second group did not. The techniques offered during the course of this study consisted of breathing and meditation exercises.

More than one patient in five of those who practised yoga showed an improvement in their quality of sleep. This is compared with only 12% of patients in the other group.

Better still: the feeling of fatigue decreased in 42% of those patients who practised yoga, while only 12% of the control group reported a similar effect.

These results are considered to be very significant and confirm the benefits of yoga as a form of supportive care.

A study published in 2009 which looked at women suffering from breast cancer, had already pointed to the benefits of yoga in combating symptoms of depression.

Yoga, acupuncture, exercise and art therapy are among the forms of supportive care increasingly recognised by the medical community as improving patients’ quality of life. Particularly at the end of life.

Acupuncture for example helps to reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

These benefits do not influence vital prognosis but they can considerably improve the quality of survival. And cancer sufferers have the right to this too.

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