Men with prostate cancer may benefit from practicing yoga in the perioperative setting

Categories: Spring 2022

Urologists at the University of Texas Health and MD Anderson Cancer Center, San Antonio conducted

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a pilot study involving 29 men aged 30 to 80 years with a new prostate cancer diagnosis scheduled to undergo radical prostatectomy.  They randomly assigned the men to undergo a yoga intervention or standard care prior to surgery.

A prostate cancer diagnosis is stressful; 30% manifest fear, depression, and anxiety.  The risks of heart attack and suicide are 4 times higher and double in the year after diagnosis.  A number of practices such as yoga have been found beneficial for patients with cancer.  Researchers found that patients previously practicing yoga were reported to have more flexibility and muscle tone while having less anxiety and stress. These researchers assessed the effects of the perioperative yoga program on quality of life, cancer-related fatigue, urinary function, sexual function, cellular immune response, and pro-inflammatory blood marker levels.

Sessions began with breathing and pelvic floor engagement awareness in seated meditation then continued on to mindfulness, as well as postures and exercises specifically for patients undergoing prostate surgery.

The researchers reported, “The greatest impact of yoga was on sexual function, fatigue, prostate cancer-specific quality of life and physical, social, and functional well-being.”   Blood testing revealed that yoga modulated a number of key immune cells that are important in antitumor activity, with a statistically significant reduction in the expression of inflammatory cytokines in the yoga group.

Despite the patients in the yoga group having enhanced physical, social, functional, and emotional scores, the participants were motivated to practice yoga before surgery, but not afterward.

The researchers speculated that yoga is beneficial for this patient group because it decreases inflammation and cancer-related fatigue and enhances immune response and quality of life.

Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. Published online November 23, 2021. doi:10.1038/s41391-021-00470-w

 

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