A systematic review association of reflexology in managing symptoms and side effects of breast cancer treatment

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020 Feb;38:101074. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.101074. Epub 2019 Nov 25.


Background: Reflexology is one of complementary approaches most used by patients with breast cancer. The purpose of this article was to evaluate the effects of reflexology on managing symptoms and side effects of breast cancer treatment.

Methods: Data sources included PubMed, CINAHL, ScienceDirect, and Scopus. The criteria were applied to 224 articles and only six articles met the criteria.

Results: Four studies were randomized control trials and two were quasi-experimental designs. Sample sizes varied from 60 to 385 participants. All reflexology programs were taught by certified reflexologists. The results showed that reflexology is associated with benefits for both psychological and physical aspects. Reflexology was reported to improve quality of life, but not for depression or anxiety. It was also beneficial for reducing fatigue, nausea, and vomiting, but not for peripheral neuropathy.

Conclusions: enough high-level evidence has not been reported to confirm the effectiveness of reflexology on breast cancer symptom management.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Reflexology; Symptom management; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / methods*
  • Nausea / therapy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vomiting / therapy