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Research: Massage Therapy for Depression & Nausea in Cancer Patients


Cancer patients can experience a variety of side effects throughout treatment, including pain, nausea, depression and anxiety.

The good news is massage therapy can offer some relief.

Two recent studies support the use of massage therapy in breast cancer patients. The research concludes that massage therapy can be beneficial for helping depression/mood disorders in cancer patients, as well as helping chemotherapy-related nausea.

Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment

An updated study concludes that a growing body of evidence supporting the use of integrative therapies, including massage therapy, as effective supportive care strategies during breast cancer treatment.

While complementary and integrative therapies are commonly used during cancer treatment, the evidence supporting their use is limited. The study developed clinical practice guidelines based on a systematic literature review from 1990-2015.

Massage therapy - in addition to meditation, relaxation, yoga and music therapy - is recommended for depression/mood disorders in cancer patients.

Read more on PubMed »


The Preliminary Effects of Massage and Inhalation Aromatherapy on Chemotherapy-Induced Acute Nausea and Vomiting: A Quasi-Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial.

A new quasi-randomized controlled pilot study evaluated massage therapy and aromatherapies for chemotherapy-induced nausea.

Seventy-five patients with breast cancer were randomly grouped into one of three groups: massage therapy, inhalation and control. The patients in the massage group received 20 minute aromatherapy foot massage, and those in the inhalation group received three minute inhalation aromatherapy before their second, third, and fourth chemotherapy cycles. The control group underwent only the routine treatment.

The study concludes that nausea severity was significantly lower in the massage and inhalation aromatherapy groups than in the control group. Nausea was reduced in the aromatherapy groups compared with that in the control group. Massage therapy - as well as inhalation aromatherapy - seems promising regarding the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Read more on PubMed »


Find a Trusted Massage Therapist

Members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) are the most trusted massage therapists in the United States. Search for a massage therapist near you that has experience in oncology massage.


Massage & Cancer Continuing Education

Massage therapists, get detailed information on how massage therapy can benefit clients with cancer. Learn important skills, such as contraindications, treatments and more.

Register for Massage & Cancer Online CE »


Additional Research: Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

Massage for Adolescents with Cancer

New Research Analysis: Massage for Pain & Anxiety in Cancer Patients

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