A systematic review of yoga interventions as integrative treatment in breast cancer

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2016 Dec;142(12):2523-2540. doi: 10.1007/s00432-016-2269-2. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Purpose: Breast cancer is a significant public health problem all over the world. The treatment of breast cancer has many side effects. Yoga has been suggested as an integrative form of therapy for breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to systematically review yoga interventions for breast cancer and determine the efficacy of these interventions as integrative modalities of treatment in altering various outcomes related to breast cancer.

Methods: Studies were included if (1) exclusively targeted breast cancer patients; (2) published between 2013 and May 2016; (3) written in the English language; (4) published in a peer-reviewed journals indexed in MEDLINE (PubMed), CINAHL, ERIC and Alt Health Watch; (5) they used any type of yoga as a part of or the whole intervention; and (6) utilized a quantitative design for evaluation.

Results: A total of 23 interventions met the inclusion criteria. Majority of the studies had been done in USA (n = 9), followed by Germany (n = 3), India (n = 3) and Turkey (n = 2). One study each was from Australia, Canada, Iran, Taiwan, Poland, and UK. Twenty-two of the 23 interventions had statistically significant changes in studied outcome measures.

Conclusions: Despite the limitations of wide variabilities in sample size, lack of standardized approach in conducting yoga, multiplicity of outcome measures, varying durations of interventions and lack of using behavioral theories, yoga as an integrative form of therapy for breast cancer is a promising approach. More interventions utilizing yoga need to be tested.

Keywords: Alternative; Breast cancer; Complementary; Mind–body interventions; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine / methods*
  • Yoga*