Randomized trial of aromatherapy versus conventional care for breast cancer patients during perioperative periods

Kentaro Tamaki, Akiko Komatsu Fukuyama, Shigeharu Terukina, Yoshihiko Kamada, Kano Uehara, Miwa Arakaki, Kazuko Yamashiro, Minoru Miyashita, Takanori Ishida, Keely May McNamara, Noriaki Ohuchi, Nobumitsu Tamaki, Hironobu Sasano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Several studies focused on the effect of aromatherapy on mood, quality of life (QOL), and physical symptoms in patients with cancer. We compared the effects on QOL, vital signs, and sleep quality between aromatherapy and conventional therapy during perioperative periods of the breast cancer patients in this study. Methods: Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive aromatherapy or usual care. The primary endpoint was QOL, which was assessed using the quality of life questionnaire QLQ-C30, Version 3.0 of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Study Group on quality of life. Secondary endpoints included the necessity of hypnotics, vital signs including blood pressure and heart rate and adverse events. In addition, we also summarized the patients’ perception of the experience from a free description-type questionnaire. Results: A total of 249 patients had breast cancer surgery and 162 patients gave physician consent and were recruited; 110 were randomly assigned to aromatherapy group (eight patients showed incomplete EORTC QLQ-C30) and 52 to control group (one patient showed incomplete EORTC QLQ-C30). There were no statistically significant differences between the aromatherapy group and control group in the EORTC QLQ-C30 at the surgery day. As for the results of the post-operation day 1, trends for differentiations of physical functioning and role functioning were detected between aromatherapy group and control group, but the differences did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.08 and 0.09). There were no significant differences of systolic and diastolic blood pressures between aromatherapy group and control group (p = 0.82 and 0.68). There was no statistically significant difference in heart rates between aromatherapy group (70.6 ± 11.0 bpm) and control group (71.2 ± 9.8 bpm) (p = 0.73). Likewise, the rate of hypnotic use was not statistically significant (p = 0.10). No adverse events were reported after aromatherapy and all impressions from aromatherapy group were positive with descriptors such as relaxed, comfortable, and enjoyable being common. Conclusion: The results showed no effects of aromatherapy on QOL, sleep quality, and vital sign. However, there was not any harm or adverse event for using aromatherapy. All impressions from self-reporting were positive such as relaxed, comfortable, and enjoyable by the aromatherapy group. Therefore, we can use aromatherapy during perioperative periods in order to meet the expectations of the patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-531
Number of pages9
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1


  • Aromatherapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Perioperative periods
  • QOL


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