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Yoga Could Ease the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy, New Trial Suggests

Update Date: Dec 02, 2013 02:08 PM EST

Prostate cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the tissues of the male prostate organ. According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH), the estimated numbers of new cases and deaths in 2013 are 238,590 and 29,720 respectively. Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer can be treated via radiation therapy, which has side effects. In a new study, the first of its kind, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania aim to examine the effects of yoga for patients undergoing radiation therapy.

For this study, the researchers led by Neha Vapiwala, MD. Assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at the University's Abramson Cancer Center, plan on recruiting prostate cancer patients and enrolling them into yoga therapy sessions. The team aims to gather a total of 60 patients for the trial. In order to measure the effects of the yoga-therapy sessions, the team has developed a series of questions that focus on overall quality of life, fatigue tied to cancer, sexual and erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, which is a condition in which the body cannot keep urine from leaking.

The yoga therapy sessions have been designed to include two 75-minute classes per week. The classes will be taught by a trained Eischens yoga instructor from the Abramson Cancer Center. Eischens yoga is a different version of yoga that incorporates varying ideas ranging from movement theory to kinesiology. It is designed to work for people of all body types with different experience levels.

"There are many yoga therapy-related programs in operation, primarily involving women with breast cancer, but ours is the first that we're aware of that deals exclusively with men with prostate cancer," Vapiwala said according to Medical Xpress. "If the results show that taking part in yoga improves quality of life by reducing these problems, we'll be better able to educate patients on the benefits of yoga that we were not previously aware of, and encourage it among all of our patients."

The trial is being funded by the American Cancer Society.

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