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Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery Improves Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients

According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, mindfulness-based cancer recovery (MBCR) improves psychological outcomes in breast cancer patients.

A diagnosis of breast cancer is often extremely distressing for patients, as well as their families. The anxiety and distress of the diagnosis can significantly reduce a patient’s quality of life. Therefore, ways in which to improve levels of distress and anxiety in these patients is an area of active research.

Researchers from Canada recently conducted a study to compare different ways in which to improve quality of life in terms of emotional distress among patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The study included 271 women diagnosed with stages I-III breast cancer. Patients underwent two different group interventions: MBCR and supportive-expressive group therapy (SET).

The authors stated that “MBCR focused on training in mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga, whereas SET focused on emotional expression and group support. Both intervention groups included 18 hours of professional contact.”Results included mood, cortisol levels, stress symptoms, quality of life, and social support.

Overall, MBCR demonstrated greater improvements than either SET or groups with no interventions. The researchers concluded that “In the largest trial to date, MBCR was superior for improving a range of psychological outcomes for distressed survivors of breast cancer.”Cortisol levels were also improved in patients following MBCR versus other patients.

Patients diagnosed with cancer who are experiencing distress may wish to speak with their healthcare provider regarding ways in which to subside anxiety and emotional distress so that quality of life may be improved.

Reference: Carlson L, Doll R, Stephen J, et al. Based cancer recovery versus supportive expressive group therapy for distressed survivors of breast cancer (MINDSET). Journal of Clinical Oncology. Published early on-line August 5, 2013. Doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.47.5210.