Benefits of perioperative yoga for patients with prostate cancer

Dharam Kaushik, MD, and a team of investigators are the first to examine the benefits of perioperative yoga in patients diagnosed with localized prostate cancer.

Studies have already shown that yoga benefits health-related quality of life in patients with various types of cancers, but this outcome has not been evaluated in patients with prostate cancer.

Dharam Kaushik, MD, and a team of investigators are the first to examine the benefits of perioperative yoga in patients diagnosed with localized prostate cancer. They presented the findings of their study at the 2021 American Urological Association Meeting.¹ Kaushik is an associate professor and program director of Urologic Oncology Fellowship at the University of Texas Health, San Antonio.

Please discuss the background for this study.

When you look at newly diagnosed men with prostate cancer, the risk of depression or anxiety is 20% to 30%, and it doesn't end there. These patients with new diagnosis of prostate cancer are more likely to have an acute cardiac event and two-fold more likely to commit suicide. Given the finding of improvement in health-related quality of life, such as depression and anxiety in different disciplines, like neurology, psychiatry, breast cancer, and lung cancer, we started to look at the role of yoga in prostate cancer. That's the background of what drove us to look at yoga as an intervention for improving quality of life in men with prostate cancer.

What were some of the notable findings from this study? Were any of them surprising to you and your co-authors?

This is a small sample size, but it's a randomized clinical trial. In this pilot study of 30 patients, 15 patients were randomized to yoga and 15 other patients were controlled, meaning they did not undergo yoga. We collected data on quality of life, immune cells, and cytokines. We collected at the baseline of the study and then at the end of 6 weeks, just prior to their surgery. We found that there was improvement in multiple quality of life scales within 6 weeks of doing yoga, such as physical well-being, mental well-being, and social well-being. We also saw differences in the immune and cytokine data. We saw some robust response in the immune system, and decreased inflammation using cytokines.

Is further research on this topic planned, and if so, what will it focus on?

We are looking at not only evaluating the quality of life in a large sample size, but also studying the mechanistic action—what's happening at the molecular level—by analyzing the immune cells and other markers of inflammation.

What is the take-home message for the practicing urologist?

Our data shows that in newly diagnosed men with prostate cancer, yoga improved quality of life as well as some immune markers, and lowered inflammation. Although further research is required, these patients, while waiting for their surgery, can enroll in a yoga program to enhance their mental, physical, and social well-being. This is a small sample size. We need to do a larger scale study. Most of this data, although very positive, is only hypothesis-generating.

Is there anything else you feel our audience should know about the research?

This data is very interesting. Again, we have to take it with the scientific mind, with a pause in acknowledging that this is a small sample size, and we need to do further larger scale studies. Although we are seeing some good outcomes coming out of this small 30-patient sample, we need to investigate this further.

Reference

1. Kaushik D, Shah P, Mukherjee N, et al. A phase II randomized clinical trial of yoga in men with prostate cancer. Paper presented at: 2021 American Urological Association Annual Meeting; September 10-13, 2021; virtual. Abstract LBA02-03