Mindfulness meditation for oncology patients: a discussion and critical review

Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Jun;5(2):98-108. doi: 10.1177/1534735406288083.


The purpose of this article is to (1) provide a comprehensive over view and discussion of mindfulness meditation and its clinical applicability in oncology and (2) report and critically evaluate the existing and emerging research on mindfulness meditation as an intervention for cancer patients. Using relevant keywords, a comprehensive search of MEDLINE, PsycInfo, and Ovid was completed along with a review of published abstracts from the annual conferences sponsored by the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society and the American Psychosocial Oncology Society. Each article and abstract was critiqued and systematically assessed for purpose statement or research questions,

Study design: The search produced 9 research articles published in the past 5 years and 5 conference abstracts published in 2004. Most studies were conducted with breast and prostate cancer patients, and the mindfulness intervention was done in a clinic-based group setting. Consistent benefits--improved psychological functioning, reduction of stress symptoms, enhanced coping and well-being in cancer outpatients--were found. More research in this area is warranted: using randomized, controlled designs, rigorous methods, and different cancer diagnoses and treatment settings; expanding outcomes to include quality of life, physiological, health care use, and health-related outcomes; exploring mediating factors; and discerning dose effects and optimal frequency and length of home practice. Mindfulness meditation has clinically relevant implications to alleviate psychological and physical suffering of persons living with cancer. Use of this behavioral intervention for oncology patients is an area of burgeoning interest to clinicians and researchers.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Medical Oncology / methods*
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiology
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome