Breast Cancer Biopsy? Meditate

Meditation during breast cancer biopsy may reduce anxiety, fatigue, pain in women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) Sometimes when you're facing a big, important medical procedure, all you can do is say "Om." And, as it turns out, that might help.

Meditating during a breast cancer biopsy may reduce some women's pain and anxiety, a new study found.

"Image-guided needle biopsies for diagnosing breast cancer are very efficient and successful, but the anxiety and potential pain can have a negative impact on patient care," said lead study author Mary Scott Soo, MD, an associate professor of radiology at Duke Cancer Institute, in a press release.

Dr. Soo added, "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."

A biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor examines a sample of tissue. Doctors often perform biopsies when they are trying to diagnose cancer. While there are several types of biopsies, Dr. Soo and team focused on stereotactic and ultrasound-guided biopsies in their study.

An ultrasound is an imaging technique. In the case of an ultrasound-guided biopsy, doctors use ultrasound imaging to help them watch as they guide a needle into a specific mass or lump of tissue that might be cancer. The needle is used to take a sample of the potentially cancerous spot so doctors can study it.

In stereotactic biopsy, a doctor uses mammogram imaging to map the part of the body in question — in this study, it was the breast — to use when they guide the biopsy needle.

Both of these methods are thought to be effective, but can sometimes cause discomfort or pain for patients. According to Dr. Soo and team, that's where meditation could come in.

To reach this conclusion, these researchers split 121 women who were set to undergo breast cancer diagnosis at Duke into three groups. One group listened to a guided meditation during the procedure; one group listened to music; and the other underwent typical care, in which the radiologist comforts the patient during the procedure.

The women in all three groups answered surveys that assessed factors like pain, anxiety, and tiredness before and after the biopsies.

"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," Dr. Soo said.

Dr. Soo added, "Meditation is simple and inexpensive, and could be a good alternative in these settings. We would like to see this study scaled up to include a multicenter trial, and see if the findings could be generalized to different practices."

This study was published Feb. 4 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Information on funding sources and conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
February 5, 2016
Last Updated:
February 5, 2016