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Reflexology Support for People Living With Cancer 

Reflexology is one of the most popular types of complementary therapy in the UK among people with cancer. Some cancer centres offer reflexology treatments free to their patients. Some people with cancer say they feel more relaxed and able to cope after a reflexology session.

There is some evidence that reflexology can help you:

  • relax and cope with stress and anxiety
  • relieve pain
  • lift your mood and give a feeling of well being

Reflexology is not a treatment or cure for cancer.

In the field of cancer care, in 2009 62% of cancer units in the UK provided reflexology and it was second only to counselling.

This vulnerable and very unwell group have nothing but good things to say about reflexology, with the only complaint being lack of availability of appointments:

‘The improvement in my lower back pain has been staggering’

‘My sleep has improved and I feel relaxed and content’

‘I found having treatments helped me focus and be more positive and able to deal with incidents that made me feel fragile.’

When reflexology for cancer care was evaluated in a busy London hospital there was a 28% change in perceived well-being. 

‘Patients appear to perceive complementary therapies as enhancing compassionate care and providing comfort during an extremely difficult clinical experience.’

Even in a palliative care setting all participants felt their quality of life had improved and words such as relaxed and comforted were used while symptoms were reduced.  

When considering mental health, a study of reflexology on the psychological effect of having breast cancer resulted in a statistical improvement in quality of life even at one month after the completion of the intervention. This difference was to a level that was calculated as being clinically worthwhile. While a small cross over trial (the patients were their own control) from America in lung and breast cancer patients showed that both groups of patients had a significant decrease in anxiety after reflexology.

References 

Availability of complementary and alternative medicine for people with cancer in the British National Health Service: results of a national survey. Egan B1, Gage HHood JPoole KMcDowell CMaguire GStorey LComplement Ther Clin Pract. 2012 May;18(2):75-80

 Is reflexology as effective as aromatherapy massage for symptom relief in an adult outpatient oncology population? – PubMed

Dyer J, Thomas K, Sandsund C, Shaw C. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2013 Aug;19(3):139-46

Effects of complementary therapies in cancer care – PubMed Briscoe J, Browne N (2013) Nursing Times; 109: 41, 18-20.

Does reflexology impact on cancer patients’ quality of life? 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11973949/

Hodgson H Nursing Standard 2000 Apr 19-25;14(31):33-8.

A randomised, controlled trial of the psychological effects of reflexology in early breast cancer. A randomised, controlled trial of the psychological effects of reflexology in early breast cancer – PubMed Donald M Sharp et al. Eur J Cancer. 2010 Jan.

The effects of foot reflexology on anxiety and pain in patients with breast and lung cancer 

N L Stephenson et al. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2000 Jan-Feb.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10660924/

Lavina Cullen
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