Mindfulness Meditation Decreases Anxiety in Prostate Cancer Patients

Anxiety can cause men with prostate cancer to forgo surveillance for chemotherapy.

After an intervention of mindfulness meditation, prostate cancer patients under active medical surveillance reported a decrease in anxiety and a significant increase in resilience over time.

Studies have shown that anxiety and uncertainty causes 1 in 4 men diagnosed with prostate cancer who choose active surveillance to end up choosing definitive therapies within 1 to 3 years, even if they have shown no signs of tumor progression.

“It's very understandable that some men will feel concerned with the knowledge that they indeed have prostate cancer but are asked to not do anything to remove it,” said principal study investigator David Victorson. “For many men this can create a great deal of inner turmoil. This turmoil can build up over time and eventually lead to men seeking surgical intervention when it may not ultimately be necessary.”

Mindfulness meditation dates back about 2500 years and is a well-known contemplative awareness practice designed to develop the skill of paying close attention to your inner and outer experiences with acceptance, compassion, and patience.

The pilot study was conducted by researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Victorson, who studies the emotional stress of active surveillance and how mindfulness training can help alleviate anxiety, is partnering with other medical institutions to perform a 5-year, multi-site, controlled study.

The study will enroll men and their spouses who will be randomized to undergo 8 weeks of intensive mindfulness mediation training or to an 8-week control group.

“I believe we have an opportunity to investigate and equip men with additional tools above and beyond surgical intervention that can help them manage cancer-related uncertainty intolerance,” Victorson said.