Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Post Treatment Cancer Patients



For most cancer patients, treatment requires facing uncertainty, worries about cancer surgery and outcome effects, fear of cancer progression and death, guilt, and even spiritual questioning. In addition to anxiety, pain is common among cancer patients. In a recent review of the literature, the prevalence of pain in all cancer types was more than 50%. Cancer pain can result from direct tissue invasion, from biopsy and other diagnostic procedures, and from treatment (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) and consequences of treatment (infections, gastrointestinal tract ulcerations). Cancer pain can be treated with long-acting analgesics and shorter-acting rescue medications for breakthrough pain along with adjuvant therapies. Cancer pain can be complicated by psychological distress inherent in the experience of cancer pain itself, with its associated fear and helplessness, often causing mood and anxiety disturbances.
Conventional treatments for anxiety and pain in cancer patients vary. Some pain conditions can involve surgical interventions. Counseling, psychotherapy, and behavioral therapies may also be recommended for anxiety. However, many of these interventions are costly and may be associated with undesirable side effects and adverse outcomes thus creating uncertainty for patients, clinicians, and other decision makers.
To further complicate patient decisions, alternative approaches, such as, mindfulness-based interventions including meditation, breathing exercises, Tai Chi, and Yoga, and mindfulness lifestyle interventions may not be in line with conventional thinking as appropriate choice options to treating pain and anxiety conditions.
Over the last several years the Dr Kopera has involved cancer patients and patient partner stakeholders (patients, their families and other health care providers) in providing alternative interventions including meditation, breathing exercises, Tai Chi, and Yoga and mindfulness lifestyle interventions in addressing anxiety and pain in post treatment cancer patients.
A central goal of this study is to continue to engage an advisory team of patient partner stakeholders’ perspectives and to determine the relative risks and benefits of providing alternative mindfulness-based choices to treat anxiety and pain in post treatment cancer patients.