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02-09-2010 | Oncology | Article

Complementary therapies ease prostate cancer patients’ anxiety


Free abstract

MedWire News: Prostate cancer patients being treated with radiotherapy are interested in and show benefit from complementary therapies, including Reiki and relaxation response therapy (RRT), report US researchers.

Specifically, researchers observed a positive effect after Reiki and RRT on patients who were classified as "anxious" at baseline, and RRT also showed an overall improvement in emotional wellbeing.

"Prostate cancer is associated with high levels of anxiety and depression", explain Clair Beard, from Dana-Faber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.

"Increasing evidence supports the interconnectedness of mind and body and suggests important benefits of mind/body interventions in reducing the harmful effects of stress," they add.

The team randomly assigned 54 men undergoing external-beam radiotherapy to receive Reiki (n=18) or RRT (n=18), or to remain on the wait-list and act as controls (n=18). A total of 88% of all RRT patients and 83% of all Reiki patients completed full attendance.

Reiki - an energy therapy used to improve the body's ability to heal itself - and RRT - a method of cognitive re-structuring which replaces negative thoughts with positive images - were carried out for 8 consecutive weeks by an experienced practitioner before radiotherapy was given.

Although the study was underpowered to detect significant differences between study groups, subgroup analysis revealed positive effects of RRT among patients who were classified as anxious at baseline (a score of 42 or higher on the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory [STAI]).

The average reduction in STAI score among anxious patients from the start to the end of therapy was 19 points, from 51 to 30.

Anxious patients given Reiki displayed the same trend, with a STAI start-to-end score decrease of 9 points, from 49 to 40.

The emotional wellbeing of patients (measured using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General scale) who received RRT improved significantly compared with patients who received Reiki, and controls, comment Beard et al.

Furthermore, a statistically significant reduction in CESD score (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale score, where 16 or higher denotes depression) was identified in seven Reiki and RRT patients who were considered depressed at baseline.

The study results "underscore the need for larger, well-designed clinical studies that define the appropriate role of complementary therapies in men with prostate cancer undergoing active conventional treatment," conclude Beard and team in the journal Cancer.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sarah Guy

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