Mind-Body Therapies in Cancer: What Is the Latest Evidence?

Curr Oncol Rep. 2017 Aug 18;19(10):67. doi: 10.1007/s11912-017-0626-1.


Purpose of review: Many people living with cancer use complementary therapies, and some of the most popular are mind-body therapies (MBTs), including relaxation and imagery, hypnosis, yoga, meditation, tai chi and qigong, and art therapies. The efficacy of these modalities was reviewed by assessing recent findings in the context of cancer care.

Recent findings: These therapies show efficacy in treating common cancer-related side effects, including nausea and vomiting, pain, fatigue, anxiety, depressive symptoms and improving overall quality of life. Some also have effects on biomarkers such as immune function and stress hormones. Overall studies lack large sample sizes and active comparison groups. Common issues around clearly defining treatments including standardizing treatment components, dose, intensity, duration and training of providers make generalization across studies difficult. MBTs in cancer care show great promise and evidence of efficacy for treating many common symptoms. Future studies should investigate more diverse cancer populations using standardized treatment protocols and directly compare various MBTs to one another.

Keywords: Anxiety, depression, quality of life, fatigue, pain; Art therapy; Complementary therapies; Creative therapies; Hypnosis; Imagery; Integrative oncology; Mediation; Qigong; Relaxation; Tai chi; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Tai Ji / psychology
  • Yoga / psychology