Biofeedback for Cancer
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a technique used to train your mind to control the way your body works.
It uses devices that guide people to consciously regulate body processes that normally
are automatic. The National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine groups
biofeedback with other relaxation techniques or body-mind therapies, such as hypnosis,
meditation, and prayer.
Can biofeedback help people with cancer?
Biofeedback has been shown to help patients reduce the severity and occurrence of
headaches, insomnia, and chronic pain, but has not been found to affect cancer cells.
How does biofeedback work?
During biofeedback, a person is monitored with electrodes that are connected to electronic
equipment in place to measure breathing (or respiratory rate), perspiration, skin
temperature, blood pressure, and heartbeat. The results are displayed on a computer
screen. Specific procedures or devices are used to measure each body change, including:
Electromyogram. This measures muscle tension.
Electrodermal activity. This measures changes in perspiration rate.
Finger pulse devices. These can measure blood pressure, oxygen level, and/or heart rate.
Once the electronic devices record these body signals, a biofeedback technician may
recommend physical and mental exercises designed to teach a person how to relax and
change the functions being measured. Biofeedback technicians are trained and nationally
Are there any possible problems or complications associated with biofeedback?
There are no known side effects of this therapy.
Biofeedback, as an addition to your cancer treatment plan, has the potential to be
pleasant and productive, improving quality of life. However, it should not replace
the care and treatment provided by your cancer care team. Always consult your health
care provider for more information.