Massage therapy provides relief during advanced cancer

Massage Therapy has been found to offer relief from pain and depressed mood for people coping with advanced cancer reveals new study.

A report published in the ‘Annuals of Internal Medicine’ stated that people who received massage from licensed, specially trained therapist, reported greater improvements in pain and mood symptoms than people who received simple touch. However, these improvements faded with time.

The study intended to find out if massage therapy would be more beneficial than a simple touch. Based on the results, the team concluded that massage therapy was much better than simple touch for mood and pain. Massage worked much better for immediate relief, although it did not appear to have a sustained effect.

The study included 380 adults with advanced cancer, majority of whom had moderate pain. The types of cancer included in the study were breast, pancreatic, lung, prostate and colorectal.

Simple touch involved a therapist placing both hands on the patient for three minutes at ten specific body sites. The massage therapy, on the other hand, was performed by licensed therapists who were trained in oncology massage, with at least six months experience in cancer massage.

The therapists in both groups were asked to keep talking to a minimum and to simply provide instructions or answer therapy-related question, without music or scented oils.

The Chair of Oncology and Hematology, Ochsner Health Foundation, Dr. Jay Brooks, said “If massage helps people with advanced cancer feel better, than I would say great, go ahead.” However, Brooks suggests that anyone with cancer, particularly those on active treatment regimens, should check with their doctor prior to getting a massage.

Although massage appeared perfectly safe in the study, the team never included people who had high risk of bleeding or fractures. Hence, before going in for massage therapy, it is important to find a qualified therapist, advises Jean Kutner, Associate Prof. medicine, University of Colorado, the lead of the study team.