Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and their caregivers experienced improvements in function and quality of life after undergoing yoga therapy, according to a study presented at the 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium in San Diego, California.1

A common adverse event of thoracic radiation (RT) for patients with NSCLC is respiratory toxicities, which may negatively impact caregivers and patients alike. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and potential efficacy of a yoga intervention for patients with NSCLC and their caregivers.

For this study, the investigators randomly assigned 47 eligible dyads (patients with NSCLC undergoing RT and their caretaker) to 15 sessions of yoga or a waitlist control (WLC) group. The Short Form-36 (SF-36 domains) questionnaire was used to measure quality of life in both groups prior to undergoing RT, and patients also underwent the 6 minute walk test (6MWT) to assess physical performance. The study groups were reassessed upon conclusion of RT and then 3 months later.

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Patients and caregivers completed a mean of 12 sessions, and 96% of study participants described the program as “very useful.”

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After adjusting for multiple variables, results showed that patients in the yoga group had a clinically significant improvement in 6MWT compared with patients in the WLC group (mean 478 meters vs 402 meters, respectively; P < .05).

Analysis of the SF-36 questionnaires of patients with NSCLC revealed that there were clinically significant differences in the physical function, mental health, and role performance domains. Caregivers experienced clinically significant improvements in the role performance and vitality domains.

The authors concluded, “Yoga therapy appears to be a feasible and beneficial supportive care strategy for lung cancer patients and caregivers. A larger efficacy trial with a more stringent control group is warranted.”


1. Milbury K, Mallaiah S, Liao ZX, et al. Randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a dyadic yoga program for lung cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and their family caregivers. Poster presented at: 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium; October 27-28, 2017; San Diego, CA. Abstract 125.