Knowledge
Cancer vs Biofeedback: Exercise for Stress Management and Resilience

Now patients can take control of a key risk factor for tumor progression with HRVB Exercise

Our contemporary lifestyles are particularly inducive of stress-related disorders. For oncology patients, this becomes even more of an issue: when diagnosed with cancer, many of them feel an increase in stress, and it can easily become chronic. And whereas there is no evidence that chronic stress causes cancer, it can make cancer spread faster. Effects of stress can be relevant both before, during, and after treatment. Tools are available which help patients cope.

In the context of cancer pathogenesis, there is growing evidence for biological and clinical implications of psychosocial and biobehavioral influences. Studies have shown the impact of chronic stress on metastasis: stress hormones stimulate angiogenesis, cell migration, and invasion, which leads to increased progression. Metastasis, when resistant to conventional therapy, is the major cause of cancer-related deaths.

Studies show impact of biofeedback training

Biofeedback (BF), including heart rate variability biofeedback (HRVB), appears to be a valuable tool in coping with stress. It can be used to control, and make subtle changes to, a variety of physical functions, such as heart rate. Biofeedback training (BFT) and heart rate variability biofeedback training (HRVBT) are based on three stages: initial conceptualization, skills acquisition and skill rehearsal, as well as transfer of treatment. In each of these phases, exercises aim at cognitive-behavior modification to induce change – patients, or clients, ought to become observers of, and actors on, their behavior and physiological responses.

BFT and HRVBT are effective: A study on BF-based interaction showed significant improvements in psychological test scores and salivary cortisol levels. In addition, results included increased grey matter (GM) volume in regions of the brain which are associated with stress response. According to the research team, the findings suggest that BFT affects the GM structures vulnerable to stress. HRVBT offers a useful tool for treating depressive symptoms in patients with psychological or medical diseases, according to another study published in Nature. This applies also to patients with cancer – depression affects up to 20%, and anxiety 10%.

While conventional BF methods provide information about the body by connecting individuals to electrical sensors, technology from kenkou enables patients to use their smartphones to measure pulse and heart rate variability (HRV). These measurements are accurate biomarkers for stress management. Combination of this data with BF exercises is a simple and cost-effective way to take control of body functions. Patients will typically conduct these trainings in a setting with professional support

Patients can take control

BFT helps to emancipate oncology patients in the context of key risk factors. This includes general stress as well as condition-induced stress after diagnosis and coping with treatment measures such as chemotherapy. Patients benefit from, e.g., slowed tumor progression and optimized monitoring of treatment.