Background: Several studies report that practicing Yoga may lead to numerous psychophysiological
benefits in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. Moreover, it may result in an effective
alternative for coping with sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression and fatigue symptoms. A
study based on the “Yoga in Oncology” project of the Foundation Poliambulanza was carried out,
and it was designed to explore the benefits of Yoga, therefore corroborating Yoga as a therapeutic
activity that can have a beneficial impact on patients diagnosed with cancer.
Methods: Seventy patients were recruited, of whom 20% were males and 80% were females 18 years
of age and older. All patients were being treated at the oncology department for gastrointestinal,
mammary or genital carcinoma, and the disease was metastatic in 80% of patients. Data were collected
between April 2013 and May 2017. The protocol consisted of a weekly 90-minute Yoga lesson for
8 consecutive weeks, and the data collection was carried out in 2 phases: (T0) preprotocol assessment
and (T1) postprotocol assessment. Psychophysiological assessment was carried out with the following
scales: the (BFI) Brief Fatigue Inventory, (HADS) Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and
(PSQI) Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index.
Results: Data analysis showed a significant difference between the (T0) and (T1) HADS (Hospital
Anxiety and Depression Scale) scores. The constructs of this scale consist of psychological variables
for the assessment of anxiety and depression. In contrast, scores from the (BFI) Brief Fatigue Inventory
and (PSQI) Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index did not show significant differences between (T0)
and (T1): such scales are relative to psychophysiological variables for an assessment of the perception
of fatigue and quality of sleep.
Conclusion: It is noteworthy that the data, once analyzed, showed a significant difference between
preprotocol and postprotocol levels of anxiety and depression but not for the perception of fatigue or
the quality of sleep. In accordance with the scientific literature, data from this study highlight that
practicing Yoga may promote changes in the levels of perceived anxiety and depression in patients
undergoing treatment for cancer, thus positively affecting their (QoL). It is clear that the difference in
significance between the psychological and physiological variables considered here and the statistical
significance found only in levels of anxiety and depression encourage further studies to account for
the nature of fatigue and sleep disturbances and how to address these symptoms in oncological patients.
Moreover, other points of interest for future clinical research regard the evaluation of the reason
for the possible denial to participate to this kind of study, as well as the social-cultural differences
in patients’ behavior.