A non-invasive approach, using aromatherapy and reflexology, can significantly reduce the pain and anxiety in women undergoing radiation cervical therapy, according to preliminary data of the clinical study conducted at Ohio State University, a comprehensive cancer center - Hospital Arthur G. James and Richard J. Nightingale Institute.. (OSUCCC - James).
Previously reported data indicate that 40% of women undergoing radiation therapy of the cervix, there is much pain and anxiety, they develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For this clinical study, the researchers wanted to know whether integrative medicine approaches such as aromatherapy and reflexology, to reduce pain and anxiety that are usually experienced by women undergoing brachytherapy. This type of target radiation is highly effective in treating several types of cancer that occur deep inside the body. The radiation source is placed close to the tumor itself and avoids radiation exposure to adjacent normal tissue.
To determine whether the effectiveness of the approach, the researchers recruited 50 women who undergo brachytherapy for the treatment of cervical cancer, to pass essential oil aromatherapy and foot reflexology 30 minutes prior to the brachytherapy sessions. Preliminary results indicate that the patient reported that the pain level reduced by 60 percent, and anxiety has decreased by 20 percent.
"We have this very effective treatment approach, but in fact these therapy sessions cause such extreme discomfort and anxiety that tolerated treatment is both mentally and physically stressful for patients," - says Lisa Blackburn, principal investigator of the study. "Our preliminary work shows that we can reduce the pain and anxiety of our patients using integrative medicine practices, without introducing another tablet or invasive procedure in the treatment regimen."
During therapy professional reflexologists use pressure points in the foot to determine the specific symptoms and usually weaken the patient. Blackburn noted that these treatments are simple to use and have significant positive clinical effects.
"It's nice to have something that really helps these patients," she adds. "Not only do these sessions integrative therapy have virtually no side effects, but patients need to be about 40% less pain medication than those who did not receive these treatments."
Blackburn hopes that aromatherapy and reflexology become the standard of care, not only for patients with brachytherapy, but for any patient who may experience pain or anxiety.
This ongoing research is supported OSUCCC - James. The initial results of the study were presented at the 43rd Annual Congress of the Society Cancer Nurses May 18.