The Power of Touch: Oncology Massage

Source: MdAnderson

Touch is an opening to the interface of the body, mind, and spirit.   Soothing touch has probably been used for as long as people have lived. Today, many find massage therapy a peaceful reprieve from the stress of everyday life. The use of massage as a medical therapy dates back more than two thousand years , to the oldest known text of traditional Chinese medicine called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.

Massage therapy has gained in popularity as a beneficial healthcare technique, and is one of Complementary and Integrative Medicine’s most utilized therapies.

What is Oncology Massage?
Oncology massage is an enjoyable way to revitalize, and support the body, mind, and spirit. The oncology massage therapist has specialized training in customizing the massage according to specific cancer and cancer treatment related needs.  Using an eclectic approach to massage, the therapist considers the client’s preferences, desired outcome, and medical situation and develops a massage program to both efficiently and safely nurture those who are dealing with cancer.  Oncology massage, when practiced by a knowledgeable therapist, is both safe and effective at helping people feel better during challenging times.

Benefits of Oncology Massage – What does recent research Show?
Recent research supports the usefulness of oncology massage for symptom management and improving aspects of quality of life for those living with cancer. A randomized, controlled trial of people  with advanced cancer published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that massage resulted in immediate  relief from pain and depressed mood, and improve quality of life.

(1). While the strongest evidence suggests oncology massage can relieve pain and anxiety,
there is also evidence that massage can relieve fatigue and nausea.

(2). Th e mechanisms of the therapeutic effects of massage are not fully understood, however, the            research suggests it is more than just aspects of simple touch and the presence of a supportive person.

Ongoing research in oncology massage is starting to examine novel neuroimaging techniques and assessing biological outcomes such as the immune and hormonal systems and this will help scientists better understand the biology and mechanisms of touch therapies.
Oncology Massage Opportunities Available at MD Anderson
Oncology Massage services are available for patients and caregivers:
• Inpatient Bedside Massage (patients only, limited availability)
• Ambulatory Treatment Center – during chemotherapy infusion (patients only, limited availability)
• Brief Relaxation Chair Massage – Integrative Medicine Center/Mays Clinic (by appointment)
• Oncology Massage – 30 & 60 minute sessions (by appointment)

If you would like more information, please refer to individual clinical services page or call the Integrative Medicine Center at 713-794-4700.

1. Kutner JS, Smith MC, Corbin L, et al. “Massage Therapy vs. Simple Touch to Improve Pain and Mood in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Trial.” Ann Intern Med. 2008; September 16; 149(6): 39-379. PubMed

2. Ahles TA, Tope DM, Pinkson B, et al. “Massage Therapy for patients undergoing autologous bone marrow transplantation”. J Pain and Symptom Manage. 1999;18:157-163. PubMed

 

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