Mumbai: A study by the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) yielded that inclusion of yoga in the treatment of breast cancer patients is highly beneficial. The inclusion of yoga resulted in a 15% relative improvement in disease free survival (DFS) and 14% in overall survival (OS).
The yoga intervention was carefully designed with inputs from yoga consultants, clinicians as well as physiotherapists to suit the needs of breast cancer patients and survivors, keeping in focus, the different phases of their treatment and recovery.
The yoga protocol included gentle and restorative yoga postures (asana) with regular periods of relaxation and pranayama. It was implemented through classes by qualified and experienced yoga instructors. Additionally, handouts and CD’s of the protocol were provided for maintaining compliance.
The largest clinical trial is an important milestone in use of yoga in breast cancer since this is the first example of a very Indian traditional remedy being tested in a rigorous western design of randomized study with robust sample size.
Breast cancer is the commonest cancer affecting women not only in India but globally. It raises huge amount of anxiety in women which is twofold, the first fear of cancer with threat to life and the second worry due to side effects of treatment and coping with it. It is heartening to see that yoga practiced with rigour and perseverance has proved its superiority in maintaining excellent quality of life and has also numerically reduced the risk of recurrence and death by 15%.
Nita Nair, a TMH doctor presented the results of a landmark breast cancer study testing effect of yoga, as a spotlight presentation at the ongoing San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), one of the most prestigious breast cancer conferences in the world held annually in USA. Out of thousands of research papers submitted to the conference few are chosen for spotlight discussion and our study deserved this due to the novelty of intervention and the first very Indian intervention impacting outcomes in breast cancer.
Background: Yoga has been tested in multiple small-randomized studies for its impact on quality of life (QOL) on breast cancer (BC). TMH carried a randomized controlled trial, to study the effect of yoga on disease free survival as the primary endpoint in women with operable breast cancer.