Effects of yoga on improving quality of life in patients with breast cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Breast Cancer. 2021 Mar;28(2):264-276. doi: 10.1007/s12282-020-01209-6. Epub 2021 Jan 15.


Background: Complications of breast cancer treatment can cause physical and psychosocial distress in patients. Yoga demonstrates substantial potential as a supportive therapy for patients with breast cancer. Our aim is to conduct a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of yoga in enhancing the quality of life (QoL) of patients with breast cancer.

Methods: We searched for studies published before March 2020 in the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases. Individual effect sizes were standardized, and the pooled effect size was calculated using a random effect model. Measured outcomes included QoL, anxiety and depression, stress, fatigue, pain severity, and sleep quality.

Results: In total, 26 trials involving 2069 patients were reviewed. Significant enhancement in QoL was observed immediately after the yoga intervention. The pooled mean differences in social (weighted mean difference [WMD]: 1.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.12-2.61), emotional (WMD: 1.46, 95% CI 0.26-2.66), and functional well-being (WMD: 2.04, 95% CI 0.21-3.87) were significantly higher in the yoga group than in the control group. Patients practicing yoga exhibited significant improvements in physical well-being, mental well-being, and sleep quality as well as reductions in anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, and pain severity after the intervention.

Conclusions: Yoga may enhance QoL in patients with breast cancer experiencing post-treatment complications. Therefore, we recommend yoga as a supportive therapy for patients with breast cancer to relieve post-treatment distress.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Meta-analysis; Quality of life; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Self Report
  • Sleep
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga / psychology*