New guidelines published for the use of complementary therapies in patients with breast cancer

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According to new guidelines recommended by the Society for Integrative Oncology, meditation, relaxation with imagery, and yoga have the strongest scientific evidence to support their use as complementary therapies for the treatment of breast cancer.

Specifically, these complementary therapies were given a grade of "A" to be used routinely to treat anxiety and other mood disorders that are often observed in patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The same techniques were given a "B" grade to decrease depression, fatigue, and stress.

The researchers assigned a "B" grade to acupuncture for preventing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Most other therapies were given a grade of "C" due to lack of evidence, and acetyl-l-carnitine was the only therapy found to be harmful due to increased risk for chemotherapy-related neuropathy.

To assess the efficacy of various complementary therapies, researchers from various cancer centers in the United States and Canada evaluated randomized controlled clinical trials that tested 80 different therapies in combination with standard cancer care in patients with breast cancer. The team's findings were presented at the Society for Integrative Oncology's 11th International Conference in Houston, Texas, and will be published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monograph.

Yoga improves fatigue and reduces inflammatory markers in breast cancer survivors
Relaxation and yoga are the strongest complementary therapies for the treatment of breast cancer.

Over eighty percent of breast cancer patients in the United States use complementary therapies following a breast cancer diagnosis, but there has been little science-based guidance to inform clinicians and patients about their safety and effectiveness. In newly published guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center with colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and other institutions in the U.S. and Canada, analyzed which integrative treatments appear to be most effective and safe for patients.

They evaluated more than 80 different therapies. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation with imagery were found to have the strongest evidence supporting their use. They received an "A" grade and are recommended for routine use for anxiety and other mood disorders common to breast cancer patients.

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