Reflexology for the management of secondary lymphoedema in patients affected by treatment for breast cancer. An exploratory study.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. After treatment, approximately 20% of people suffer lymphoedema. With increased incidence and improved breast cancer survival rates, more people are living with this chronic condition for which there is currently no cure. Evidence suggests that there is a need for exploration of simple effective interventions and further research into a range of physical therapies for the management of lymphoedema. Research question: "Can reflexology help reduce secondary lymphoedema in patients affected by treatment for breast cancer?" Method: A series of six case studies was conducted using A-B-A design. The participants with unilateral secondary lymphoedema received four consecutive weekly reflexology lymph drainage (RLD) treatments. Data were collected using limb volume circumferential measurements and MYCaW. Results: Results indicate a statistically significant reduction in lymphoedema swelling during the study, and these are supported by methodological triangulation of data. Conclusion: Findings of this exploratory study suggest that RLD may be helpful in the management of secondary lymphoedema. Results appear to support the theory of reflexology although the methodology used cannot prove causality. Statistical significance of results indicates that further research may be worthwhile. A well-designed RCT is recommended.
BSc (Hons) Complementary Therapies
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