Massage and cancer treatment

September 15, 2008 3:35:14 PM PDT
Most people would agree that getting a massage is an enjoyable way to relax and deal with stress. But massages are also therapeutic and increasingly a part of healthcare. A new study examines what they might do for patients with advanced cancer.

"The thing I like best about massage therapy is that it makes my body feel very relaxed," breast cancer patient Mimi Moya said.

And having a relaxing feeling can also mean a mood improvement for cancer patients like Moya.

In the study, published in "The Annals of Internal Medicine," researchers studying 380 patients with advanced cancer found that massage therapy may have benefits not just on the patient's mood, but also on their level of pain.

"We found that massage therapy, when we compared it to just a simple touch, gave people some relief of pain and some improvement of mood, at least immediately after the massage therapy session," study author Dr. Jean Kutner said. "That was more than if you just had a touch to the person."

Half the people in the study, done at hospices, were simply touched. The other half, like Moya, got a therapeutic massage three times a week for two weeks.

"It's a feeling of well-being, and it continues at least to the end of that day," she said.

The researcher say the massage can offer immediate relief to patients with advanced cancer, but the effect doesn't last over time. There is still a great need to better strategies to manage pain in this advanced stage.

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STORY BY: Sade Baderinwa

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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