Real-World Experiences With Yoga on Cancer-Related Symptoms in Women With Breast Cancer

Shruti R. Patel, Jacqueline Zayas, Jose R. Medina-Inojosa, Charles Loprinzi, Elizabeth J. Cathcart-Rake, Anjali Bhagra, Janet E. Olson, Fergus J. Couch, Kathryn J. Ruddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Integrative therapies such as yoga are potential treatments for many psychological and physical symptoms that occur during and/or after treatment for cancer. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the patient-perceived benefit of yoga for symptoms commonly experienced by breast cancer survivors. Methods: 1,049 breast cancer survivors who had self-reported use of yoga on a follow up survey, in an ongoing prospective Mayo Clinic Breast Disease Registry (MCBDR), received an additional mailed yoga-focused survey asking about the impact of yoga on a variety of symptoms. Differences between pre- and post- scores were assessed using Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test. Results: 802/1,049 (76%) of women who were approached to participate, consented and returned the survey. 507/802 (63%) reported use of yoga during and/or after their cancer diagnosis. The vast majority of respondents (89.4%) reported some symptomatic benefit from yoga. The most common symptoms that prompted the use of yoga were breast/chest wall pain, lymphedema, and anxiety. Only 9% of patients reported that they had been referred to yoga by a medical professional. While the greatest symptom improvement was reported with breast/chest wall pain and anxiety, significant improvement was also perceived in joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue, headache, quality of life, hot flashes, nausea/vomiting, depression, insomnia, lymphedema, and peripheral neuropathy, (all p-values <0.004). Conclusion: Data supporting the use of yoga for symptom management after cancer are limited and typically focus on mental health. In this study, users of yoga often reported physical benefits as well as mental health benefits. Further prospective studies investigating the efficacy of yoga in survivorship are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Advances In Health and Medicine
StatePublished - 2021


  • breast cancer
  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • survivorship
  • symptom control
  • yoga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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