Meditation helps cancer patients

Meditation helps cancer patients

Very few studies focusing on meditation and cancer have been reported in the literature. Only two randomized, controlled trials have looked at meditation as the sole psychosocial intervention in patients with cancer. The first of these focused on MBSR in relation to mood and symptoms of stress. The intervention was similar to the UMass program, consisting of a weekly MBSR group lasting 1.5 hours for 7n weeks plus meditation practice at home. Ninety patients, representing a range of types of stages of cancer, were enrolled. Those patients randomized to MBSR showed a significant reduction in overall mood disturbance and an increase in vigor compared to those in the control group. The meditation group also had fewer overall stress symptoms, fewer cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, and less emotional irritability, depression, and cognitive disorganization by the end of the study than the control group. Analyses of our study of breast cancer patients (n=178) undergoing MBSR plus the wrap-around sessions are in progress. A positive effect of this program on psychosocial outcomes in the MBSR participants has already been confirmed. Following the program, we observed increases in levels of active-cognitive coping, a large decrease in level of overall "emotional over-control," an increase in spirituality, and reduced depression and helpless/hopeless thinking in comparison to the control group. At twelve months' follow-up, the MBSR group continued to show a significant improvement beyond that of the other comparison groups in the study (a dietary intervention group and a usual care group) on several psychosocial measures.

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD; and Nola Lewis, M.S

Share this with your friends