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Mind-Body Practices in Cancer Care

Abstract

Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease such as cancer and undergoing treatment can cause unwanted distress and interferes with quality of life. Uncontrolled stress can have a negative effect on a number of biological systems and processes leading to negative health outcomes. While some distress is normal, it is not benign and must be addressed, as failure to do so may compromise health and QOL outcomes. We present the evidence for the role of stress in cancer biology and mechanisms demonstrating how distress is associated with worse clinical outcomes. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network states that all patients be screened with the single-item distress thermometer and to also indicate the source of distress and to get appropriate referral. In addition to the many conventional approaches for managing distress from the fields of psychology and psychiatry, many patients are seeking strategies to manage their distress that are outside conventional medicine such as mind-body techniques. Mind-body techniques such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong have been found to lower distress and lead to improvements in different aspects of quality of life. It is essential that the standard of care in oncology include distress screening and the delivery of different techniques to help patients manage the psychosocial challenges of diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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Alejandro Chaoul, Kathrin Milbury, Anil K. Sood, Sarah Prinsloo, and Lorenzo Cohen declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Lorenzo Cohen.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Integrative Care

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Chaoul, A., Milbury, K., Sood, A.K. et al. Mind-Body Practices in Cancer Care. Curr Oncol Rep 16, 417 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11912-014-0417-x

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Keywords

  • Distress
  • Screening
  • Cancer
  • Mind-body
  • Quality of life