Meditation lowers pain, anxiety in breast cancer biopsy

New York, Feb 6 (IANS) Meditation eases anxiety, fatigue and pain for women undergoing breast cancer biopsies, new research says.

Researchers from the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, US found that during such period even music is effective, but only to a lesser extent.

Meditation also helps lower pain during biopsy, the study said.

“Listening to guided meditation resulted in significantly lower biopsy pain during imaging-guided breast biopsy, and both meditation and music reduced patient anxiety and fatigue,” said Mary Scott Soo, associate professor at Duke Cancer Institute.

There are medical approaches to ease anxiety by providing anti-anxiety drugs but they may sedate the patients, the researchers noted, adding that meditation is simple and inexpensive, and can be seen as a good alternative.

Anxiety and potential pain can also have a negative impact on patient care undergoing image-guided needle biopsies for diagnosing breast cancer, which are otherwise efficient and successful, the researchers indicated.

Patients who experience pain and anxiety may move during the procedure, which can reduce the effectiveness of biopsy, or they may not adhere to follow-up screening and testing, the researchers revealed in the study published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The researchers enrolled 121 women undergoing breast cancer diagnosis at Duke and randomly assigned them to receive one of three approaches as they underwent stereotactic and ultrasound-guided biopsy: a recorded meditation, music, or standard care with a technologist offering casual conversation and support.

The meditation was a guided “loving/kindness” script that focused on building positive emotions such as compassion towards oneself and others and releasing negative emotions.

Patients in the music group listened to their choice of instrumental jazz, classical piano, harp and flute, nature sounds or world music. Standard-care patients received supportive and comforting dialogue with the radiologist or technologist.

Immediately before and after biopsy, participants completed questionnaires measuring nervousness and anxiety, ranking biopsy pain between a low of zero to a high of 10, and assessing feelings of weakness and fatigue.

Patients in the meditation and music groups reported significantly greater reductions in anxiety and fatigue after biopsy than those receiving standard care. The standard-care patients reported increased fatigue after biopsy, the researchers concluded.

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