The effects of mindfulness based stress reduction on breast cancer survivors
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States. Cancer diagnosis and treatment usually induce significant amount of psychological stress on patients, and breast cancer patients are especially susceptible to cancer-related distress. Chronic stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and the sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) axis, whose prolonged activation initiates physiological events harmful to the immune system and negatively influence cancer progression and recurrence. Therefore, it is important to identify and introduce effective cancer-related stress management programs and incorporate them into the standard cancer care routine besides conventional therapy. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week stress reduction program that has deep roots in ancient Buddhist practice and is used widely in clinics around the world nowadays. Is has been demonstrated to be effective in relieving stress and promoting well-being in a variety of populations, both clinical and nonclinical. And now it has started to be adapted into a complementary breast cancer therapy. However, much of MBSR’s mechanism is still unknown, and no definite proof exists to show its efficacy in improving the negative psychological and physiological side effects of breast cancer treatment. This thesis summarizes and evaluates the current evidence of MBSR’s effectiveness in relieving psychological and physiological stress symptoms among breast cancer patients and survivors.