Patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) experience high levels of symptoms. Yoga interventions have shown promise for improving cancer symptoms but have rarely been tested in patients with advanced disease. This study examined the acceptability of a comprehensive yoga program for MBC and the feasibility of conducting a randomized trial testing the intervention.
Sixty-three women with MBC were randomized with a 2:1 allocation to yoga or a support group comparison condition. Both interventions involved eight weekly group sessions. Feasibility was quantified using rates of accrual, attrition, and session attendance. Acceptability was assessed with a standardized self-report measure. Pain, fatigue, sleep quality, psychological distress, mindfulness, and functional capacity were assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and 3 and 6 months post-intervention.
We met goals for accrual and retention, with 50% of eligible patients enrolled and 87% of randomized participants completing post-intervention surveys. Sixty-five percent of women in the yoga condition and 90% in the support group attended ≥ 4 sessions. Eighty percent of participants in the yoga condition and 65% in the support group indicated that they were highly satisfied with the intervention. Following treatment, women in the yoga intervention had modest improvements in some outcomes; however, overall symptom levels were low for women in both conditions.
Findings suggest that the yoga intervention content was highly acceptable to patients with MBC, but that there are challenges to implementing an intervention involving eight group-based in-person sessions. Alternative modes of delivery may be necessary to reach patients most in need of intervention.