Massage Therapy and Cancer

Touch is a biopsychosocial intervention, it is a tool to provide reassurance, relief, and reframing.

Touch is a biopsychosocial intervention, it is a tool to provide reassurance, relief, and reframing.

The RMT Education Project is an initiative that is working to promote the benefits of massage therapy to an international audience, here I have to put together a list of research papers relevant to the practice of oncology massage.

Massage Can be a Source of Safety, Comfort and Relief

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 (Sohl et al. 2015). 

Oncology massage is a specialty where massage techniques are changed to meet the needs of people with cancer and undergoing cancer treatments. In this field of research, there is a growing body of evidence that massage therapy helps people with cancer physically and emotionally, and it can improve their quality of life (Hilfiker et al. 2017, Kinkead et al. 2017).

Movement for Movement

There is emerging research indicating being physically active during and after cancer treatment has many health benefits (Bouillet et al. 2015, Fong et al. 2012, Hilfiker et al. 2017Schmitz et al. 2010)


More to Explore

Canadian Cancer Society: Massage Therapy

Albini, A., Decensi, A., Cavalli, F., & Costa, A. (2016). Cancer Prevention and Interception: A New Era for Chemopreventive Approaches. Clinical Cancer Research.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27220959

Block, K. I., Block, P. B., & Gyllenhaal, C. (2015). Integrative Therapies in Cancer: Modulating a Broad Spectrum of Targets for Cancer Management. Integrative Cancer Therapies.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25601968

Block, K. I., Gyllenhaal, C., Lowe, L., Amedei, A., Amin, A. R., Amin, A., . . . Zollo, M. (2015). Designing a broad-spectrum integrative approach for cancer prevention and treatment. Seminars in Cancer Biology.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26590477

Bouillet, T., Bigard, X., Brami, C., Chouahnia, K., Copel, L., Dauchy, S., . . . Zelek, L. (2015). Role of physical activity and sport in oncology. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25660264

Deng, G., & Cassileth, B. (2013). Complementary or alternative medicine in cancer care—myths and realities. Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23897081

Fong, D. Y., Ho, J. W., Hui, B. P., Lee, A. M., Macfarlane, D. J., Leung, S. S., . . . Cheng, K. (2012). Physical activity for cancer survivors: Meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22294757

Greenlee, H., DuPont-Reyes, M.J., ... Tripathy, D. (2017). Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment. CA Cancer J Clin.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28436999

Godette, K., Mondry, T.E., Johnstone, P.A., (2006) Can manual treatment of lymphedema promote metastasis? J Soc Integr Oncol.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16737666

Hilfiker, R., Meichtry, A., Eicher, M., Nilsson, B.L., Knols, R.H., Verra, M.L., Taeymans, J. (2017). Exercise and other non-pharmaceutical interventions for cancer-related fatigue in patients during or after cancer treatment: a systematic review incorporating an indirect-comparisons meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28501804

Kim, T.H., Rowat, A.C., Sloan, E.K. (2016). Neural regulation of cancer: from mechanobiology to inflammation. Clin Transl Immunology.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27350878

Kinkead, B., Schettler, P.J., Larson, E.R., ... Rapaport, M.H. (2017). Massage therapy decreases cancer-related fatigue: Results from a randomized early phase trial. Cancer.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29044466

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.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27729327

Listing, M., Krohn, M., Liezmann, C., Kim, I., Reisshauer, A., Peters, E., Klapp, B.F., Rauchfuss, M. (2010). The efficacy of classical massage on stress perception and cortisol following primary treatment of breast cancer. Arch Womens Ment Health.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20169378

Mao, J.J., Wagner, K.E., Seluzicki, C.M., Hugo, A., Galindez, L.K., Sheaffer, H., Fox, K.R. (2017). Integrating Oncology Massage Into Chemoinfusion Suites: A Program Evaluation. J Oncol Pract.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28045616

Mustian, K.M., Alfano, C.M., ... Miller, S.M. (2017). Comparison of Pharmaceutical, Psychological, and Exercise Treatments for Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Meta-analysis. JAMA Oncol.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28253393

Nijs, J., Leysen, L., Adriaenssens, N., Aguilar Ferrándiz, M.E., ... Meeus, M. (2016). Pain following cancer treatment: Guidelines for the clinical classification of predominant neuropathic, nociceptive and central sensitization pain. Acta Oncol.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27142228

Padera, T. P., Meijer, E. F., & Munn, L. L. (2016). The Lymphatic System in Disease Processes and Cancer Progression. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26863922

Radossi, A.L., Taromina, K., Marjerrison, S., ... Ladas, E.J. (2017). A systematic review of integrative clinical trials for supportive care in pediatric oncology: a report from the International Society of Pediatric Oncology, T&CM collaborative. Support Care Cancer. 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29026997

Schmitz, K. H., Courneya, K. S., Matthews, C., Demark-Wahnefried, W., Galvão, D. A., Pinto, B. M., . . . Schwartz, A. L. (2010). American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable on Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20559064

Sohl ,S.J., Borowski, L.A., Kent, E.E., ... Arora, N.K. (2015). Cancer survivors' disclosure of complementary health approaches to physicians: the role of patient-centered communication. Cancer. 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25387799

Stuiver, M.M., Ten Tusscher, M.R., McNeely, ML. (2017).  Which are the best conservative interventions for lymphoedema after breast cancer surgery? BMJ.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28572132

Thomas, R.J., Kenfield, S.A., Jimenez, A. (2016). Exercise-induced biochemical changes and their potential influence on cancer: a scientific review. Br J Sports Med.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27993842