Can Yoga Improve Life Quality For Cancer Sufferers?

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 Can Yoga Improve Life Quality For Cancer Sufferers?

Date posted: 31 January 2011

Researchers have launched a study to see if Yoga can improve the quality of life for patients with gynaecological cancer.

The study has been devised by scientists at the University of Derby in collaboration with doctors at the Royal Derby Hospital.

More than 100 participants will take part in weekly Hatha-style Yoga exercises for 10 weeks to assess any benefits of the classes. The study will run between now and December 2011.

Participants who join the study will have been diagnosed with gynaecological cancer, and are currently being treated with either surgery or chemotherapy at the Royal Derby Hospital. One group of study volunteers will be invited to take part in the Yoga trials while the other group will be asked to abstain from the Yoga sessions to form a control group. University doctoral student Stephanie Archer will assess the wellbeing levels of both groups of patients on a regular basis to gauge any benefits of Yoga.

The study is the brainchild of principal investigator and University of Derby biologist Dr Heidi Sowter in conjunction with Mr Anish Bali, a gynaecological oncologist from Derby City Hospital.

Dr Sowter said: "Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years to improve emotional and physical wellbeing. Several studies have shown that practicing Yoga has beneficial effects on the quality of life of cancer patients, although this has yet to be proved conclusively.

"This clinical trial will determine if Yoga has positive effects on gynaecological cancer patients. If the results are positive, then future patients could benefit from an improved cancer care service."

Mr Bali added: "We are testing the hypothesis that Yoga can benefit cancer patients by helping manage symptoms of the disease such as fatigue, insomnia and stress. Information from this study could help to improve the care of future gynaecological cancer patients."

One of the study participants, Margaret Gregory, 67, who lives in Mickleover, said: "After attending my first session of yoga at the University of Derby site, I am intrigued to know more about how practising yoga may improve my wellbeing. I am looking forward to meeting other gynaecological cancer patients and sharing our feelings and experiences during the ten week course."

Over a million women are diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year. Womb cancer is the most commonly diagnosed gynaecological cancer followed by ovarian cancer then cervical cancer. However, the death rate of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer still remains high, accounting for six per cent of all female cancer related deaths in the UK.

The Derby/Burton cancer team has an active laboratory-based programme examining the molecular basis in the development and progression of ovarian cancer. Dr Heidi Sowter is assisting in research in this area.

The Yoga classes for the research trial are being held in the Multi-Faith Centre, within the grounds of the University's Kedleston Road site on Thursday evenings starting this week. The sessions have been laid on with support from the centre's retired Director Eileen Fry who is now its volunteer coordinator and a qualified Yoga teacher.

Part of the funding for the research study came from a successful charity ball and auction organised last March by the University and Royal Derby Hospitals. Charles Hanson from TV's Bargain Hunt was special guest at the event at the Roundhouse in Derby.

Researchers are still keen for eligible volunteers to take part in the sessions, so if you meet the criteria and are interested, please contact Stephanie Archer on email: or call: 01332 592023.

Further information on why yoga may help benefit cancer patients can be found at

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