Yoga Programs May Help Couples with Lung Cancer

A clinical trial studies how yoga may improve symptoms and quality of life of patients and their partners during the weeks of radiation treatment for non-small cell lung cancer. 

Grantee: Kathrin Milbury, PHD
Institution: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
Area of Focus: Cancer Control and Prevention Research
Term: 1/1/2019 to 12/31/2022

People living with lung cancer may have symptoms like fatigue and depression. Their partners, who are often caregivers, also report high rates of fatigue, disturbed sleep, depression, and anxiety. Support programs that recognize both partners can help them improve their quality of life.

Previous studies by Kathrin Milbury, PhD, showed promising results for using yoga as a way to improve symptoms and quality of life of patients and their partners during the weeks of radiation treatment. Now, Milbury is running a clinical trial with the support of an ACS grant.

During 6 weeks of radiation treatment, patients and their partners are randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: couples’ yoga, patient-only yoga, or education only, without yoga. Those in the yoga groups receive 15, 1-hour sessions of yoga. All patients and their partners fill out reports on their symptoms and quality of life before being assigned to a group and answer the questions again during the last week of radiation, and 1, 3, and 6 months after radiation is done.

Why Does It Matter? Informal caregivers, particularly spouses and life partners, are important sources of support and care for cancer survivors. Caregiving is physically and psychologically taxing, and it’s critical to address the health and quality of life of caregivers so the quality of care they provide is not compromised. Yoga, a proven mind-body practice, has been shown to improve physical functioning and the quality of life of cancer survivors and their caregivers.

See the clinical trial.