Possible Massage Therapy Benefits for Individuals with Cancer and Recovery

Background by Suzanne Melcher Thompson, MA, LRT/CTRS, LMBT

“Journal of Pain and Symptom Management” (Sept. 2004) stated massage of 1,290 patients who received Swedish, light touch, or foot massage showed the following promising results:

  • Decreased Pain
  • Decreased Fatigue
  • Decreased Anxiety
  • Decreased Nausea
  • Decreased Depression

“Cancer Control” (July 2005) Safety and efficacy of massage therapy for patients with cancer concluded conventional care for patients with cancer can safely incorporate massage therapy:

  • Stress and Anxiety Reduction
  • Pain Reduction

“Curr Pain Headache Rep.” (August 2006) Massage Therapy for cancer pain.  Small studies, but are promising.  Stated patients that receive massage have:

  • Less Procedural Pain
  • Less Nausea
  • Less Anxiety
  • Report Improved Quality of Life

“Journal of Nursing Management” (March 2006) Use of reflexology foot massage to reduce anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients in chemotherapy treatment: methodology and outcomes.  Concluded that massage therapy reflexology can be used as a support treatment for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy:

  • Feel Better
  • Cope Better with their disease

“Touch Therapy” (2000), by Tiffany Field.  “Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer”.  Study showed small sample of 20 women with the following results:

  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Reduced Depressed Mood
  • Increase in immune functioning

 “Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America” (2006 Elservier) Primer on Integrative Oncology.  Study showed:

  • May be effective in stress reduction
  • Massage therapy should not represent a significant risk and may be offered to patients who have cancer except for those who have conditions such as an increased risk of bleeding or bone metastases.

Quick Reference

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Last Updated: 09-02-2014
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