Breast Cancer-Related Lymphoedema

In this randomised controlled pilot trial 12 women with breast cancer-related lymphoedema completed eight weeks of daily yoga sessions.

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Lymphoedema is a potential side effect of breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy that can appear in some people during the months or even years after treatment for breast cancer ends. Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates throughout the body to remove wastes, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid. So lymphoedema occurs when too much lymph collects in any area of the body. If lymphoedema develops in people who’ve been treated for breast cancer, it usually occurs in the arm and hand, but sometimes it affects the breast, underarm, chest, trunk, and/or back.

In this randomised controlled pilot trial 12 women with breast cancer-related lymphoedema completed eight weeks of daily yoga sessions while the control group (n = 11) continued with best current care including information on compression sleeves, skin care, risks of temperature variations and recommended safe use of the affected arm. After eight weeks, the intervention group had an improvement in lumbo-pelvic posture compared to the control group and significantly increased strength in shoulder abduction following the yoga intervention in both the affected and non-affected arm. Researchers concluded that participation in yoga may provide benefits for posture and strength in women with breast cancer-related lymphoedema, which may be attributed to the focus of yoga on overall postural and functional movement patterns. These are very important and heartwarming findings indeed.

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS