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Complementary Therapy for People with Cancer

Updated: Feb 12, 2018



Despite widespread use, there remains a paucity of research exploring cancer patients’ experiences of receiving complementary therapy treatment. We wanted to gain insight into the experiences of patients using a complementary therapy outpatient service offering aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and Reiki. At this London Cancer Centre, therapies are offered to patients as a self-referral service as part of their treatment pathway at any stage of treatment or follow up.


New patients (n = 96) attending the outpatient complementary therapy service for the first time were asked about their main concerns. The MyCaW (Measure your concerns and wellbeing) evaluation tool was used to collect data. Follow up MyCaW data from these patients was also collected after 4 sessions of complementary therapy. Patients were able to choose which therapy they wished to receive at each session.


Patient reported outcomes after receiving 4 sessions of complementary therapies demonstrated significant improvements (indicated by at least a 1 point change in MYCAW scores) across a range of concerns. The greatest improvements were seen in relaxation, sleep problems, and pains/aches.


Qualitative comments collected from this evaluation indicate that complementary therapies can address both physical and emotional concerns often simultaneously and provide a unique therapeutic space for patients. Many patients have not had this experience before and this may introduce them to new methods of addressing complex multi dimensional issues resulting from living with a cancer diagnosis.

Source: Science Direct, Elsevier. European Journal of Integrative Medicine.

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