New guidelines give hope for better mental health in cancer treatment
Two leading oncology organizations, the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), have issued guidelines recommending mindfulness and other holistic therapies for treating anxiety and depression in adults with cancer.
The recommendations are based on a thorough review of existing studies and aim to improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
Mindfulness-based interventions are gaining traction
The guidelines strongly recommend mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), which include techniques such as meditation, stress reduction, and mindful exercise, to treat anxiety and depression in people undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment.
“Mindfulness-based interventions not only help manage patients’ emotional symptoms, but also give them a sense of control during often very challenging times,” said Scott T. Tagawa, a medical expert in the field.
The guidelines were developed by experts from various medical disciplines, including oncology, behavioral medicine and patient advocacy.
They assessed the available evidence from clinical trials and then came to a consensus on the most effective therapies to treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients.
Other therapies are also recognized
In addition to mindfulness, the guidelines also suggest that other therapies, such as music therapy, relaxation, and reflexology, may be helpful.
Yoga has been particularly recommended for breast cancer patients, although it has been emphasized that yoga may also benefit people with various types of cancer.
“That doesn’t mean yoga is only for women with breast cancer. Research shows it may help others, too, and we need more studies to prove this,” said Linda E. Carlson, Ph.D., President of SIO.
How this helps patients and healthcare providers
The guidelines serve as a source of information for both healthcare providers and patients, providing them with practical tools and recommendations for integrating these therapies into cancer care.
The aim is to support people with cancer in becoming more actively involved in their own treatment decisions. Both SIO and ASCO have also provided additional resources and tools on their websites for easy access.
“These guidelines make it easier for patients to discuss these types of therapies with their physicians, making their care more holistic and patient-centric,” said Julia Rowland, Ph.D., co-chair of the SIO-ASCO guideline.
Future research and considerations
The panel has been cautious in making its recommendations, highlighting areas that require further research.
Although some therapies have not been recommended in the guidelines, this does not mean that they are ineffective. it merely indicates that more evidence is needed.
For example, more studies are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of natural health products.
“The goal is to educate as many people and doctors as possible about the best treatments for people suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression,” concluded Dr. Carlson.
Overall, these new guidelines are an important step in recognizing the role of mindfulness and other integrative therapies in improving the mental well-being of cancer patients.
As a result, patients now have more options and resources to manage the emotional challenges that often accompany a cancer diagnosis.
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The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
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