Cancer Patients Benefit from Touch, Massage

A recent study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute confirms claims long held by professionals in the massage therapy field: that touch can truly have therapeutic benefits. Caregivers in the study learned touch and massage techniques through an instructional DVD and used the techniques on loved ones with cancer. Most surprising was the magnitude of the benefits, according to lead researcher William Collinge, Ph.D.

The study found significant reductions of the following symptoms when massage was performed by a family member:

  • stress and anxiety – 44% massage
  • pain – 34%
  • fatigue – 32%
  • depression – 31%
  • nausea – 29%

Also of significance is the length of a massage session, particularly for stage IV cancer patients. 78% of patients in the final stage of the disease reported stress relief after a massage of at least 13.75 minutes, compared to only 15% of those who received shorter sessions.

The takeaway? Touch is extremely important. Even loved ones residing in assisted living facilities or nursing homes can experience a significant reduction of symptoms and improvement in quality of life through massage.

Image Copyright Jon Haynes Photography on Flickr Creative Commons

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4 Responses to “Cancer Patients Benefit from Touch, Massage”

  1. Carlyn says:

    Always nice to see a statistical breakdown. I’m surprised to see that massage reduced nausea. Very interesting!

  2. Angela says:

    It was an interesting read for us, as well. How great for a family caregiver to be able to make such a significant contribution to symptom reduction?

  3. Daphne cook says:

    From my friend that works at hospice she mentioned that cancer patients are overly sensitive to touch. My dear friend recently died from the disease and towards the end she didn’t even want me to touch her arms. I believe that perhaps this is a personal preference.

  4. Angela says:

    Daphne – You’re probably right. What’s not included in the stats is the percentage of patients who experienced adverse effects from massage. The statistics are convincing enough to make it worth a try, though, and if the patient should find it less than comforting, it can be ceased immediately.

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