Support for yoga, meditation, massage, acupressure and music therapy during breast cancer treatment released in new guidelines

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced its support of the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) evidence-based guideline on the use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment.

The official endorsement and summary of key recommendations found in the guideline were published as a special article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which can be found here.

Integrative oncology combines the delivery of evidence-based complementary therapies—most often used by patients and survivors of breast cancer—with conventional cancer care. While limited evidence exists for the use of integrative therapies, there are a growing number of randomized controlled trials that show selected therapies may improve the management of symptoms and adverse events resulting from breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

SIO published an updated clinical practice guideline in 2017 to summarize the available evidence for clinicians and to provide evidence-based guidance on the use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment. Included in the guideline were data from randomized controlled trials published from 1990 to 2015.

An ASCO expert panel reviewed the guideline for clinical accuracy, guideline contents, and recommendations, after which the panel determined the guideline to be “clear, thorough, and based on the most relevant scientific evidence.” ASCO subsequently endorsed the guideline with a few added discussion points.

The key recommendations included in the guideline are as follows:

  • Music therapy, meditation, stress management, and yoga are suggested for anxiety/stress reduction.
  • Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage, and music therapy are suggested for depression/mood disorders.
  • Meditation and yoga are suggested to improve quality of life.
  • Acupressure and acupuncture are recommended for reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Additionally, the guideline recommends against the use of acetyl-L-carnitine for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. No strong evidence supports the use of ingested dietary supplements to manage breast cancer treatment-related adverse effects, the guideline adds.