July 15, 2010

Study to examine how yoga may help cancer survivors

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Vanderbilt investigators are studying yoga’s potential to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

Study to examine how yoga may help cancer survivors

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers are studying the potential impact of yoga on cancer survivors' quality of life.

The pilot study will measure patients' physical, mental and emotional well-being following a series of yoga classes.

“Adult cancer survivors often report an impaired quality of life following treatment, including fatigue, problems with sleep and psychosocial issues,” said Debra Friedman, M.D., leader of VICC's Cancer Control and Prevention Program and medical director of the REACH for Survivorship Program.

“Despite the tremendous implications of having an impaired quality of life, few investigators have staged interventions aimed at improving these measures among a group of cancer survivors.”

Friedman and Pinki Prasad, M.D., M.P.H., clinical instructor in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, are the principal investigators for the study, which will enroll 60 patients between the ages of 18 and 65. Vanderbilt-Ingram is partnering with Nashville General Hospital at Meharry (NGH) for the yoga study.

The yoga courses will be held at Vanderbilt-Ingram and at NGH, will last for 10 weeks, and each session will be an hour to 90 minutes in length.

Each class will enroll 10 patients per session at Vanderbilt and five at NGH. The courses will be coordinated by certified yoga instructors with the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health.

To be eligible for the study, cancer survivors must have completed chemotherapy in the last five years and must obtain clearance from their primary care physician, an oncologist or a health care provider at Vanderbilt-Ingram's REACH for Survivorship clinic.

They cannot be undergoing any active cancer treatment, with the exception of oral medications for breast cancer, and they must be able to sit on a chair or the floor and recline without assistance. Patients cannot currently be enrolled in or attending another yoga class.

“We will ask participants to fill out questionnaires before the course, at the end of yoga class and three months after the yoga class in order to measure any potential response to the yoga sessions,” said Prasad.

To find out more about the study, patients may contact either the Vanderbilt-Ingram REACH for Survivorship Research Team at 936-0413 or their oncologist.