For some cancer patients, those who are treated with brachytherapy, the pain and anxiety that accompanies treatment can be significant. Brachytherapy is used to treat cancers that occur deep within the body, such as cervical or prostate cancer. For this treatment, the radiation source is positioned very close to the tumor itself in order to maximize the radiation dose to the cancer while decreasing exposure to normal body tissues.
Though we knew this treatment could be painful and invasive, at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, my colleagues and I noticed another concerning trend. While receiving ongoing treatments of brachytherapy, pain and anxiety seemed to sometimes get worse with each treatment. In order to address this, we found that integrative therapies, particularly aromatherapy and reflexology, could provide significant support.