Reflexology for the symptomatic treatment of breast cancer: a systematic review.
The objective of this review was to assess the effectiveness of reflexology as a symptomatic treatment for breast cancer. In all, 12 databases were searched from the time of their inception through July 2010. Prospective, controlled clinical trials of reflexology in patients with breast cancer that included an assessment of clinical outcome measures were reviewed. Study selection, data extraction, and validations were performed independently by 2 reviewers. One randomized clinical trial (RCT) and three nonrandomized controlled clinical trials (CCTs) met our inclusion criteria. One large RCT showed significant differences in quality of life and mood when reflexology was compared with self-initiated support. Three CCTs tested reflexology compared with no treatment or simple rest. All of them suggested favorable effects of reflexology on pain, nausea, and vomiting. However, they had a high risk of bias. Collectively, the existing evidence does not convincingly show that reflexology is effective for breast cancer care. Future studies seem warranted; they should be of high methodological quality, and include adequate control interventions.