Objectives: To assess the feasibility, safety, and initial estimates of efficacy of a yoga program in postoperative care for women at high risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL). Design: Single-group pretest-post-test design. Settings/Location: Patients were recruited from the University of California, San Francisco Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. Subjects: Twenty-one women were enrolled in the study. Women were >18 years of age, had undergone surgical treatment for breast cancer, and were at high risk for BCRL. Intervention: The women participated in an Ashtanga yoga intervention for 8 weeks. Sessions consisted of once/week instructor-led practice and once/week home practice. Particular attention was given to poses that emphasized upper body strength and flexibility, while avoiding significant time with the upper extremity (UE) in a dependent position. Outcome measures: UE volume was assessed through circumferential forearm measurement, which was converted to volume using the formula for a truncated cone. Range of motion (ROM) was assessed for the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, using a standard goniometer. UE strength was assessed for shoulder abduction, elbow flexion, wrist flexion, and grip using a dynamometer. Results: Twenty women completed the yoga intervention, with 17 returning for final assessment. Mean age was 52 (±9.1) years and body mass index was 24.8 (±5.1) kg/m2. Postintervention, mean volume in the at-risk UE was slightly reduced (p = 0.397). ROM for shoulder flexion (p < 0.01) and external rotation (p < 0.05) significantly increased bilaterally. Shoulder abduction ROM significantly improved for the unaffected limb (p = 0.001). Following intervention, strength improved on the affected side for shoulder abduction and grip strength, and bilaterally for elbow flexion (p < 0.05 for all). Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that yoga is feasible and safe for women who are at risk for BCRL and may result in small improvements in shoulder ROM and UE strength.
- breast cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine