Men with prostate cancer who are undergoing radiation therapy can benefit from practicing yoga, says a new study.
Lead author Neha Vapiwala of the Penn's Abramson Cancer Center found that general quality of life and measurements of side effects often experienced by prostate cancer patients like fatigue, sexual health, and urinary incontinence, were stable throughout a course of outpatient radiation therapy among the men participating in an intensive yoga program.
‘Yoga helps enhance quality of life, minimize or reduce side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer patients, and promote healing and recovery.’
Vapiwala said that the possible explanation for the benefits of yoga seen in the study stems from physiologic data demonstrating its ability to help reduce cancer- as well as treatment- related fatigue and to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow. She said that there might also be a psychosocial benefit that derives from participation in a group fitness activity that incorporates meditation and promotes overall healthiness.
Researchers found that a structured yoga intervention in the form of twice-weekly classes was feasible for patients during a six- to nine-week course of outpatient radiotherapy for prostate cancer.
In the study, 68 eligible prostate cancer patients were identified and offered study participation, of which 45 consented (66 percent) to attend twice-weekly yoga classes of 75 minutes each.
Most yoga participants reported a sense of well-being at the end of each class, and upon finishing the yoga program and concluding their study involvement, many patients requested and received an at-home practice routine to fit their needs.
Severity of fatigue scores demonstrated significant variability over the time of treatment, with increases by week four as expected, but then improving over the course of treatment. Erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and general quality of life scores demonstrated steady trends.