Cancer and its treatment are associated with considerable distress, impaired quality of life, poor mental health, and reduced physical function. This is particularly true for women with breast cancer who receive multimodal treatment over an extended period of time. Many women undergo surgery and chemotherapy, which are often followed by radiotherapy. It is important to develop programs that can be incorporated into the treatment schedule that can help ameliorate the treatment-related morbidity that accumulates over time. Research suggests that stress-reduction programs tailored to the cancer treatment setting may help patients cope with the acute effects of treatment and improve their quality of life after treatment. Yoga, an ancient Eastern science, incorporates stress-reduction techniques including regulated breathing, visual imagery, and meditation, as well as various postures. Although different forms of yoga are practiced in many Eastern countries, most of what is known about yoga in the West comes from the Indian tradition. Less well know are the yogic practices from Tibet. For thousands of years, Tibetan's have been employing a form of yoga that incorporates controlled breathing and visualization, mindfulness techniques, and postures. We have designed and pilot-tested a Tibetan yoga program for cancer patients and found that it is feasible to conduct the intervention, and there is some initial indication that the intervention improves adjustment. We hypothesize that the yoga program we designed will be particularly useful for women with breast cancer who are undergoing adjuvant treatment for their disease as the focus is on controlled breathing, visualization, and mindfulness techniques, as well as some low impact gentle postures. The proposed study will assess the physical and psychological benefits of a Tibetan yoga program for women with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Patients with breast cancer who are scheduled to receive chemotherapy will be randomly assigned to either a Tibetan yoga group or an Educational Support group. This research will also evaluate the extent to which psychosocial factors mediate and/or moderate the intervention program and predict patients'recovery and adjustment to treatment. The effects of the intervention should be evident throughout recovery and across physical and psychological indices.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention Study Section (PRDP)
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Alfano, Catherine M
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University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Physical Medicine & Rehab
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
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Biegler, Kelly A; Chaoul, M Alejandro; Cohen, Lorenzo (2009) Cancer, cognitive impairment, and meditation. Acta Oncol 48:18-26