When men receiving prostate cancer treatment attended twice-weekly, structured yoga classes, they experienced less fatigue and better sexual and urinary function compared with those who did not, according to recent findings.
“Levels of patient-reported fatigue are expected to increase by around the fourth or fifth week of a typical treatment course, but that did not happen in the yoga group,” Neha Vapiwala, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, said in a press release. “Both the severity of the fatigue as well as the patients’ ability to go about their normal lives appeared to be positively impacted in the yoga group.”
Researchers performed a randomized phase 2 trial to assess the potential therapeutic effects of yoga on fatigue, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and overall quality of life in patients with prostate cancer undergoing 6 to 9 weeks of external beam radiation therapy.
They randomly assigned patients to either a twice-weekly yoga (n = 22) group or a no-yoga (n = 28) group. They compared standardized assessments of endpoint fatigue, sexual health, urinary incontinence and quality of life at time points before, during and after radiation treatment. Patients received questionnaires prior to study inception, twice a week while receiving radiotherapy and within a week of their last yoga class or radiation treatment to evaluate their fatigue severity and impact on daily life.
Patients in the yoga group reported lower fatigue scores over time, as they attended more yoga sessions, whereas patients who did not participate in yoga reported higher fatigue levels as treatment progressed. The researchers used the International Index of Erectile Dysfunction questionnaire to measure sexual dysfunction, and found that although both groups started with roughly the same score, the yoga group’s score was largely unchanged while the non-yoga group declined over the duration of treatment. When they examined quality of life measurements, Vapiwala and colleagues found that yoga had a significant impact by treatment effect on emotional, physical and social scores.
“Our randomized phase 2 study demonstrates the novel application of a structured, short-term yoga intervention for potential reduction of pre-existing and [radiation therapy]-related fatigue, urinary and sexual dysfunction in [prostate cancer] patients,” Vapiwala and colleagues wrote in International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics. “Our findings support the need for validation with larger cohorts and methods such as electronic activity tracking and actigraphy to further explore and better characterize the underlying biochemical and physiologic changes induced by regular and regimented yoga-based therapy in patients undergoing active cancer treatment.” – by Savannah Demko
Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm any relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.