Inclusion of Yoga in the treatment of breast cancer patients is highly beneficial, according to a study by the Tata Memorial Hospital. Including Yoga in the study resulted in a 15% relative improvement in disease-free survival and a 14% improvement in overall survival.
The yoga intervention was designed with inputs from yoga consultants, clinicians, and physiotherapists to suit the needs of breast cancer patients and survivors, focusing on the different phases of their treatment and recovery.
The yoga protocol included regular periods of relaxation and pranayama, with gentle and restorative yoga postures(asana). Yoga instructors who are qualified and experienced implemented it through classes. In addition, handouts and CDs of the protocol were provided to maintain compliance.
This is the first example of a very Indian traditional remedy being tested in a rigorous western design of the randomized study with a robust sample size, which is an important milestone in the use of YOGA in breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women not only in India but globally.
The huge amount of anxiety that it raises in women is twofold: the first fear is of cancer with the threat to life, and the second worry is due to the side effects of treatment and coping with it. YOGA, when practiced with rigor and perseverance, has been shown to maintain excellent quality of life and numerically reduce the risk of recurrence and death by 15%.
A SPOTLIGHT paper by Dr. Nita Nair presented the results of a landmark breast cancer study testing the effect of YOGA at the ongoing San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), one of the most prestigious breast cancer conferences in the world held annually in the USA.
Our study was one of the few chosen for spotlight discussion at the conference, due to the novelty of the intervention and the fact that it was the first Indian intervention impacting outcomes in breast cancer.