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Meditative breathing alleviates dyspnoea in advanced lung cancer patients

Jairia Dela Cruz
03 Dec 2018

In patients with advanced lung cancer, mindfulness breathing exercise helps minimize dyspnoea, according to a study presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Asia 2018 Congress.

The parallel-group, nonblinded randomized controlled trial included 34 patients (mean age 64.0 years; 50 percent male) with advanced lung cancer admitted to the respiratory unit and palliative unit of University Malaya Medical Center in Malaysia. These patients were equally assigned to mindfulness breathing exercise and to placebo (best medical care alone).

Results revealed that significantly more patients in the mindfulness vs placebo group achieved reductions in the modified Borg dyspnea scale (MBDS) at 5 minutes (58.8 percent vs 17.6 percent; odds ratio [OR], 9.33; 95 percent CI, 1.80–48.38; p=0.005). There was no significant difference observed at the 20-minute time point (58.5 percent vs 41.1 percent, respectively; OR, 2.86; 0.67–12.11; p=0.149). [ESMO Asia 2018, abstract 363P]

Mindfulness breathing exercise also delivered more favourable results in terms of oxygen saturation by pulse oximetry both at 5 minutes (29.4 percent vs 11.8 percent; OR, 3.75; 0.61–23.35; p=0.209) and 20 minutes (23.5 percent vs 0 percent).

Finally, positive improvements in respiratory rate occurred similarly in the mindfulness breathing and placebo groups at 5 minutes (52.9 percent with mindfulness breathing vs 58.8 percent with placebo; OR, 1.05; 0.26–4.32; p=0.946) and 20 minutes (52.9 percent vs 41.1 percent; OR, 2.14; 0.52–8.81; p=0.288).

The present data suggest that meditative breathing has measurable effect on dyspnoea and may play a role in the management of advanced lung cancer patients.

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) foster greater awareness of present moment experience, which may have manifold benefits, ranging from enhancing the quality and vividness of daily life experience to helping better manage diverse clinical and nonclinical conditions. [Annu Rev Clin Psychol 2017;68:491-516]

Mechanisms said to drive promising initial effects of MBIs on outcomes involve both mindfulness-specific (eg, acceptance and emotion regulation mechanisms) and nonmindfulness-specific (eg, positive treatment expectancies) processes. [Psychoneuroendocrinology 2014;44:1-12]

According to experts, additional research on the mechanisms of MBIs and specification of how and for whom such interventions work will further basic and clinical efforts in this area.

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Most Read Articles
Pearl Toh, 10 Jan 2018
A study finds no evidence that using pharmaceutical aids alone for smoking cessation helps improve the chances of successful quitting despite promising results in previous randomized trials and routine prescription of such drugs to help quit smoking.
22 May 2017
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is currently the 10th commonest cause of death in Singapore, with a disease burden of 5.9 percent according to a 2015 population-based survey (EPIC-Asia survey) in Singapore. Pearl Toh spoke with Dr Augustine Tee, chief and senior consultant of the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine at Changi General Hospital (CGH) in Singapore, on how COPD is often underdetected in the primary care population as symptoms are not specific and diagnosis requires a combination of clinical risk factors, symptoms and spirometry testing.
Pearl Toh, 24 Oct 2019
Using e-cigarettes can lead to cellular inflammation in the lungs among healthy adults who had never smoked, even with use as short as 4 weeks, suggests a pilot study.
Roshini Claire Anthony, 30 Oct 2019

Combining a nicotine patch plus a nicotine e-cigarette could potentially boost the likelihood of smoking cessation in adults aiming to quit smoking, according to a study from New Zealand.