Complementary therapies, Dimbleby Cancer Care

We offer a range of complementary therapies for cancer patients. The aim is to help you:

  • adjust to a cancer diagnosis
  • better manage pain and other treatment symptoms

Our services are available to outpatients, inpatients and on the Chemotherapy village.

Complementary therapies may help you with managing side effects of treatments, such as:

  • peripheral neuropathy
  • aches and pains
  • sleeping better
  • relaxing and coping with anxiety
  • headaches
  • hot flushes
  • feeling sick (nausea)

Complementary therapies may also help you:

  • improve your energy levels
  • care for yourself and your wellbeing

Therapies we offer

Acupuncture focuses on the individual and their symptoms. We use it to help with side effects of cancer and its treatments.

The most common symptoms we see are:

  • anxiety
  • hot flushes
  • pain
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy

Acupuncture is the insertion of extremely fine and sterile needles into appropriate points on your body. The aim is to stimulate or relax your body.

We offer either 1-to-1 acupuncture or seated group acupuncture. This depends on availability and your symptoms.

Seated group acupuncture is fully clothed in a quiet room with other people. Both are equally effective.

We offer 6 weekly treatments. Each treatment lasts up to 45 minutes.

Our acupuncturists have a degree in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): acupuncture. They're registered with the British Acupuncture Council.

Watch our video about how to self-massage your acupressure points for relaxation.

Clinical aromatherapy uses essential oils (plant extracts) for their therapeutic properties. In our clinic, we blend essential oils with vegetable oils to give a gentle aromatic massage. Our therapists work with you to make up your own blend. The smells can be uplifting or calming.

Essential oils can also be used for inhalation with an aroma stick. This is a plastic nasal inhaler containing oils chosen to support you with concerns, such as:

  • anxiety
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • sleep problems (insomnia)

You can use it to gently inhale the blend to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable wherever you are.

Contact us by email or phone to find out more about referring yourself to our aroma stick service.

Massage is a treatment that aims to relax and revive the body. Using hands-on movements and manipulation of soft tissues and muscles in the body, it works to improve overall wellbeing. Our therapist will work with specific areas of your body. This might be your:

  • back
  • neck and shoulders
  • hands
  • legs
  • face

The treatment can be given when you are sitting, or lying on a massage couch or hospital bed. You can wear your clothes while having the massage, or we can use oils or cream on your skin.

Massage benefits can include:

  • reducing stress and increasing relaxation
  • reducing pain, muscle soreness and tension
  • improving circulation, energy and alertness
  • lowering heart rate and blood pressure

Some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

  • digestive problems
  • headaches
  • sleep problems related to stress

Reflexology is the application of pressure to specific areas on the feet or hands. These areas are thought to link to different parts of the body.

Our therapists use gentle techniques to stimulate the reflexes and nerve endings. The aim is to help with stress and tension in your body.

Several studies indicate that reflexology may:

  • reduce pain, stress and anxiety

  • support relaxation and sleep

Reiki is a form of complementary therapy relating to energy medicine. It aims to improve the flow of energy around the body. The gentle nature of Reiki may have a soothing effect if you feel overwhelmed by treatment, fear and stress.

Our therapists place their hands on or over your body in a series of positions.  The aim is to encourage a feeling of wellbeing. Patients most commonly report feeling less stressed and a sense of deep relaxation. 

Reiki is not offering 'healing' for any condition. It is also not based on any spiritual belief.

Relaxation services

We offer short courses to teach self-help techniques to better manage stress, anxiety or sleeplessness.

Our courses take place virtually and face-to-face. They cover:

  • breathing and movement for relaxation
  • guided relaxation techniques
  • the safe use of aromatherapy at home
  • self-massage techniques

We provide you with a handout after the webinar so you can continue using the techniques at home.

Our complementary therapy team offers live virtual relaxation sessions every Friday at 1pm.

These sessions are self-referral only. Please email [email protected] with your:

  • full name
  • hospital number (for carers, this is the hospital number of the person you are caring for)

How to book a treatment

Cancer patients can ask their health professional for a referral to our outpatient clinics.

This can be at any time from diagnosis until 12 months after completing chemotherapy, radiotherapy or having cancer-related surgery at:

  • Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, or
  • Guy's Cancer at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup

You will then receive a triage call by a member of our complementary therapy team. They'll book you in for pre-treatment assessment telephone consultation with your therapist. This will last no more than 30 minutes. During this call, you'll be able to book your hands-on follow-up sessions.

Treatments are available to people staying on our wards. Please ask the team caring for you, as a referral by a health professional is needed.

Complementary therapy on the Chemotherapy village is on a drop-in basis and subject to availability. Please ask your nurse or complementary therapist if you're interested in this service. We cannot guarantee there will be someone there or have space to see you.

You can self-refer for our weekly relaxation sessions and aroma stick service. The same criteria apply.

For more information, call Dimbleby Cancer Care on 020 7188 5918.

Our complementary therapists

Our complementary therapists are fully qualified and highly experienced in treating cancer patients. They're all registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Is this page useful?