New Research on Massage and Cancer

yoga and stretches
Connecting Tissues

Fascia, Oncology & Acupuncture

Last year Harvard Medical school hosted the Joint Conference: Acupuncture, Oncology & Fascia. This conference brought together experts in the fields of acupuncture, integrative oncology, cancer biology, manual therapy and mechanobiology. As a follow up to this conference there is now some new literature on physical-based therapies and cancer. 

Emerging Research

This includes emerging research indicating that physical-based therapies have been shown to reduce connective tissue inflammation and fibrosis, both of which are recognized as contributors to cancer development. A new paper just published in the journal Cancer Research from Helene Langevin, Robert Schleip, Thomas Findley, Boris Hinz and many others provides an overview of the potential ways physical-based therapies may impact cancer development. In their article they propose "recent advances in connective tissue biology are providing clues to potential mechanisms by which physical-based treatments may directly reduce cancer growth, spreading, and metastasis, in addition to improving symptoms and quality of life." (Langevin et al. 2016). It goes without saying that there is still a need for evaluating the safety and potential benefits of these approaches, but this seems to be a promising field of study. 

Going Forward

It is estimated that 40% of cancer survivors use integrative approaches to manage symptoms and improve their well-being after conventional cancer treatments, this includes massage, acupuncture and yoga. With those numbers it is important that the therapists involved with those patients have an understanding of the of physical and mental effects that cancer has on the body, links below for the curious reader.

Links for the curious

Albini, A., Decensi, A., Cavalli, F., & Costa, A. (2016). Cancer Prevention and Interception: A New Era for Chemopreventive Approaches. Clinical Cancer Research. (Open Access)

Berrueta, L., Muskaj, I., Olenich, S., Butler, T., Badger, G. J., Colas, R. A., . . . Langevin, H. M. (2016). Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue. Journal of Cellular Physiology. 

Deng, G., & Cassileth, B. (2013). Complementary or alternative medicine in cancer care—myths and realities. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.

Fox, J. R., Gray, W., Koptiuch, C., Badger, G. J., & Langevin, H. M. (2014). Anisotropic Tissue Motion Induced by Acupuncture Needling Along Intermuscular Connective Tissue Planes. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (Open Access)

Hinz, B. (2015). The extracellular matrix and transforming growth factor-β1: Tale of a strained relationship. Matrix Biology. (Open Access)

Ingber, D. E., Wang, N., & Stamenović, D. (2014). Tensegrity, cellular biophysics, and the mechanics of living systems. Reports on Progress in Physics. (Open Access)

Kai, F., Laklai, H., & Weaver, V. M. (2016). Force Matters: Biomechanical Regulation of Cell Invasion and Migration in Disease. Trends in Cell Biology.

Klingberg, F., Hinz, B., & White, E. S. (2012). The myofibroblast matrix: Implications for tissue repair and fibrosis. The Journal of Pathology. (Open Access)

Langevin, H. M., Keely, P., Mao, J., Hodge, L. M., Schleip, R., Deng, G., . . . Findley, T. (2016). Connecting (T)issues: How Research in Fascia Biology Can Impact Integrative Oncology. Cancer Research.

Langevin, H. M., Nedergaard, M., & Howe, A. K. (2013). Cellular control of connective tissue matrix tension. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. (Open Access)

Langevin, H. M., Konofagou, E. E., Badger, G. J., Churchill, D. L., Fox, J. R., Ophir, J., & Garra, B. S. (2004). Tissue displacements during acupuncture using ultrasound elastography techniques. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology.

Langevin H. M, Bouffard N. A, Badger G. J, Iatridis J. C, Howe A. K. (2005.) Dynamic fibroblast response to subcutaneous tissue stretch ex vivo and in vivo. American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology. (Open Access)

Swartz, M. A., & Lund, A. W. (2012). Lymphatic and interstitial flow in the tumour microenvironment: Linking mechanobiology with immunity. Nature Reviews Cancer.

Weaver, V. M., & Gilbert, P. M. (2016). Cellular adaptation to biomechanical stress across length scales in tissue homeostasis and disease. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology.