Randomized pilot trial of yoga versus strengthening exercises in breast cancer survivors with cancer-related fatigue

Support Care Cancer. 2016 Sep;24(9):4005-15. doi: 10.1007/s00520-016-3233-z. Epub 2016 Apr 29.


Purpose: Fatigue is one of the most common and bothersome refractory symptoms experienced by cancer survivors. Mindful exercise interventions such as yoga improve cancer-related fatigue; however, studies of yoga have included heterogeneous survivorship populations, and the effect of yoga on fatigued survivors remains unclear.

Methods: We randomly assigned 34 early-stage breast cancer survivors with cancer-related fatigue (≥4 on a Likert scale from 1-10) within 1 year from diagnosis to a 12-week intervention of home-based yoga versus strengthening exercises, both presented on a DVD. The primary endpoints were feasibility and changes in fatigue, as measured by the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory-Short Form (MFSI-SF). Secondary endpoint was quality of life, assessed by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapies-Breast (FACT-B).

Results: We invited 401 women to participate in the study; 78 responded, and we enrolled 34. Both groups had significant within-group improvement in multiple domains of the fatigue and quality of life scores from baseline to post-intervention, and these benefits were maintained at 3 months post-intervention. However, there was no significant difference between groups in fatigue or quality of life at any assessment time. Similarly, there was no difference between groups in adherence to the exercise intervention.

Conclusions: Both DVD-based yoga and strengthening exercises designed for cancer survivors may be good options to address fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Both have reasonable uptake, are convenient and reproducible, and may be helpful in decreasing fatigue and improving quality of life in the first year post-diagnosis in breast cancer patients with cancer-related fatigue.

Keywords: Breast; Cancer; Fatigue; Strengthening; Survivors; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors
  • Yoga / psychology*
  • Young Adult