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The Yoga and Wellness Program for Breast Cancer Survivors Study

Julienne Bower at UCLA
Study abstract

There are currently over 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, many of whom experience persistent cancer-related symptoms. Fatigue is the most common and distressing symptom among women successfully treated for breast cancer and causes serious disruption in quality of life. Mind-body interactions such as yoga are popular among cancer patients and have shown beneficial effects on fatigue in other populations; however, yoga trials in cancer are scarce. Based on promising results from a small, single-arm pilot study, the proposed study will evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an Iyengar yoga intervention for breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue. In this randomized, controlled trial, 60 breast cancer survivors with persistent cancer-related fatigue will be randomly assigned to yoga or health education control for 12 weeks and followed for 3 months. The aims of the project are to: 1) determine the feasibility and acceptability of a 12-week Iyengar yoga intervention for breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue as compared with health education control; 2) evaluate the effects of yoga vs. health education on fatigue and physical performance in breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue; and 3) explore the effects of yoga vs. health education on behavioral and immune outcomes associated with cancer-related fatigue, including depressed mood, sleep, pain, proinflammatory cytokine activity, and quality of life. This project will constitute the first randomized, controlled trial of yoga for fatigue in breast cancer survivors and will provide key preliminary data to support a larger efficacy trial. In addition, the study will provide insight into secondary effects of yoga and generate hypotheses about potential mechanisms for intervention effects that can be systematically evaluated in a larger trial. The development of targeted treatments for cancer-related fatigue is critical for maintaining quality of life in the growing population of breast cancer survivors.

Study review

This study at the University of California, Los Angeles, is comparing the effects that yoga and a Wellness Seminar series have on breast cancer survivors’ energy, mood, physical function, and immune and endocrine systems. The researchers were looking to enroll at least 60 volunteers. The Call to Action for this study was sent to Army of Women members on October 21, 2009. The researchers were able to close enrollment on February 3, 2010, after the Army of Women provided them with 42 women who were interested in enrolling in the study.

Resulting Publications: