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Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit From Mindfulness Meditation

Six-week class reduced fear of recurrence, fatigue and anxiety, researchers report

THURSDAY, June 2, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Mindfulness meditation seems to help breast cancer patients better manage symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and fear of recurrence, according to a study published online May 31 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Cecile Lengacher, R.N., Ph.D., director of the predoctoral fellowship program at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and colleagues randomly assigned 322 women who had been treated for breast cancer to a six-week mindfulness program or to a comparison group that did not learn the technique. At the study’s start, and again at six and 12 weeks, the researchers assessed the participants’ symptoms.

In all, 299 women completed the study. The researchers found that those who took part in the six-week program had less anxiety, fear of recurrence, and fatigue compared to those who did not participate in the program. The instruction helped reduce fear of recurrence and fatigue the most. The effect was small to moderate. The results also seemed to last through 12 weeks of follow-up.

The program consisted of meditation with a focus on breathing, yoga, a body scan technique (where participants learn to become aware of the entire body), and walking meditation. The instruction trains people to be aware and pay attention to the present. “We teach them to attend to the breath and to bodily sensations,” Lengacher told HealthDay. “By this constant attention and concentration, the person learns to self-regulate their emotions.”

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