Reflexology And Cancer Reflexology Pain Relief

Proponents claim that using reflexology for cancer can reduce physical and emotional symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment. Reflexology applies pressure to reflex points on the hands and feet to relieve tension and stimulate other parts of the body. Each reflex point corresponds to a different organ or body part.

It’s important to remember that reflexology is not a cure for any condition. Instead, reflexology’s goals are to reduce stress and strengthen the body, which in turn reduces symptom severity.

Studies of Reflexology and Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society (2008), early studies suggest that reflexology for cancer reduces symptom severity. Chemotherapy patients report relief from anxiety, fatigue, nausea and vomiting after reflexology treatments. Reflexology for cancer usually only provides short-term relief, and symptom severity may worsen again after three hours.

Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, examined results from multiple reflexology and breast cancer studies (2010). Their findings were mixed. While most reflexology and breast cancer studies reported reflexology pain relief worked for patients, the Korean study also concluded that most studies showed signs of bias in favor of pro-reflexology findings. The Korean report recommended further studies of reflexology’s effectiveness.

Reflexology and Cancer Symptom Relief

Studies of reflexology, breast cancer pain and symptom relief are inconclusive, but this has not stopped many patients from pursuing reflexology pain relief.

Reflexology for cancer may work in two ways. First, reflexology pain relief may work exactly as proponents claim; that stimulating reflex points does indeed have a direct effect on the body.

Another possible explanation is that reflexology techniques are no more or less effective than a stress-reducing massage. This is not intended to belittle the effects of reflexology for cancer. Massages reduce stress, which can have a profound effect on pain tolerance and symptom awareness. During a reflexology session the patient has direct, soothing contact with the reflexologist, including a chance to talk with that person and shift awareness away from symptoms.

The reasons for reflexology pain relief may ultimately be less important than the results. If reflexology for cancer improves symptoms, even for a short time, then it deserves a place in cancer treatment regimens.


American Academy of Reflexology. (2000). Relieve pain and discomfort with hand reflexology. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from

American Cancer Society. (2008). Reflexology. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from

Ji,K., Lee, M., Kang, J., Choi, Y., Ernst, E. (2010). Reflexology for the symptomatic treatment of breast cancer: A systematic review. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from

Kunz, B., Kunz, K. (2009). Cancer care and reflexology: Review of 24 studies by nurses in 10 countries. Retrieved March 10, 2011, from