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Cancer and Reflexology: Literature Review (Excerpt)

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

Although the current state of the science is not based on numerous large-scale trials, findings suggest the potential benefit of reflexology as supportive care for physical and emotional symptoms among patients with cancer.



Systematic Reviews:

1. A systematic review by Ernst (2009) included the following three cancer studies, which used reflexology.

  • 1) In Stephenson, Weinrich, and Tavakoli (2000), use of reflexology significantly decreased anxiety in patients with breast and lung cancer.

  • 2) In Hodgson (2000), patients with cancer receiving palliative care demonstrated significant improvement in quality of life (QOL), including ease of breathing, following reflexology.

  • 3) Finally, no change was reported in depression or anxiety in a sample of patients with cancer receiving palliative care in Ross et al. (2002).

2. A systematic review by Wilkinson, Lockhart, Gambles, and Storey (2008) included an additional study with hospitalized patients with metastatic cancer and demonstrated an immediate postintervention reduction in pain.


3. A systematic review by Kim, Lee, Kang, Choi, and Ernst (2010) examined the use of reflexology for patients with breast cancer receiving surgery.

  • 1) A randomized clinical trial (RCT) within that review (Sharp et al., 2012) reported significant improvement in QOL and mood.

Nonrandomized Trials