Cancer is becoming a chronic illness, as treatments improve and people live longer. This is good news, but brings with it a toll of on-going treatment and their side effects. Research tells us that people consider the psychological challenges of cancer to be harder to live with than the impact of treatment itself. Living with uncertainty is a given, whatever the prognosis. Mindfulness has much to offer this expanding population.

An 8-week mindfulness-based programme followed by radical treatment has the potential to lower levels of anxiety and improve wellbeing and sleep. Specifically adapted mindfulness interventions are now offered in some oncology departments and cancer support charities, including some Maggie’s centres and The Haven. MBSR was adapted by Linda Carlson in Canada and is called MBCR (Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery).

MBCT for Cancer (MBCT-Ca) developed from MBCT in the UK by Trish Bartley and colleagues, offers specialist teacher training in North Wales through CMRP (Centre for Mindfulness, Research and Practice), Bangor University. The overall spread of specialist courses is still patchy, but is growing steadily. Many people with cancer will access mindfulness programmes via Breathworks and general MBSR courses.

Web Resources

Breathworks –

The Haven – - support to people affected by breast cancer

Maggies – support for people affected by cancer

Paul's Cancer Support Centre: - courses and support for people with cancer and their carers, using Trish Bartley's MBCT for Cancer specialist approach.

Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice (CMRP) – - for details of specialist teacher training

For information on MBCT Ca programmes in Lancashire contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For information on MBCT Ca programmes in North Wales contact


Carlson et al (2013) RCT comparing MBCR with supportive expressive group therapy (SET) for 271 distressed survivors of breast cancer. MBCR offered better outcomes than SET over a range of psychological measures.

Hoffman et al (2012) RCT into MBSR with 214 breast cancer patients – found improvement in mood, quality of life and well-being.

Shennan et al (2010). What is the evidence for the use of mindfulness-based interventions in cancer care? A review. Psycho-Oncology


Bartley, T., (2012). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Cancer

Bauer-Wu. S., (2011) Leaves Falling Gently

Burch, V and Penman, D., Mindfulness for Health

Burch, V., (2008) Living Well with Pain and Illness

Carlson, L.E. and Speca. M., (2010) Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery