Home » News » Massage Therapy Helps Cancer Patients

Massage Therapy Helps Cancer Patients

massageA new study finds that massage therapy may have immediate benefits on pain and mood among patients with advanced cancer.

In a randomized trial of 380 advanced cancer patients at 15 U.S. hospices, improvement in pain and mood immediately following treatment was greater with massage than with simple touch.

The National Institutes of Health study appears in the current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

“When patients near the end of life, the goals of medical care change from trying to cure disease to making the patient as comfortable as possible,” said Jean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

“This study is important because it shows massage is a safe and effective way to provide immediate relief to patients with advanced cancer.”

Pain and depressed mood are common problems for patients with advanced cancer. While drug therapies can reduce symptoms, they don’t always work and often have troublesome side effects.

Researchers think that massage may interrupt the cycle of distress, offering brief physical and psychological benefits.

Physically, massage may decrease inflammation and edema, increase blood and lymphatic circulation, and relax muscle spasms. Psychologically, massage may promote relaxation, release endorphins, and create a positive experience that distracts temporarily from pain and depression.

Researchers caution that while massage may offer some immediate relief for patients with advanced cancer, the effects do not last over time, demonstrating the need for more effective strategies to manage pain at the end of life.

Source: American College of Physicians

Massage Therapy Helps Cancer Patients

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Massage Therapy Helps Cancer Patients. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 15, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.