Benefits of Therapeutic Massage during Chemotherapy

Patients with cancer commonly experience disease or treatment side effects, including pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety. An expanding body of literature supports the use of therapeutic massage as an adjunct to conventional therapies to manage these side effects. A recent research study examined cancer patients’ perceptions of pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety provided during chemotherapy. The study included 58 patients who were receiving chemotherapy and/or biotherapy. Patients had a choice of a 20-minute hand and/or foot massage by a licensed massage therapist while they received chemotherapy. There was a statistically significant reduction in each of the following variables: pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety following massage. Results demonstrated a high level of satisfaction with therapeutic massage as part of their care. In order to be controlled for bias, further research should include comparison to a control group that did not receive the massage. This study, however, contributes to the building body of research that documents the benefits of massage for cancer patients, during and after treatment.

Robinson JG. Therapeutic Massage During Chemotherapy and/or Biotherapy Infusions: Patient Perceptions of Pain, Fatigue, Nausea, Anxiety, and Satisfaction. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2016 Apr;20(2):E34-40.