Massage is a popular adjunct to cancer palliation.

And, Prof. Ernst says “the evidence is encouraging.

First, the details.

  • 6 databases were searched.
  • 14 studies of classical massage for cancer patients were worth including in the review.
  • Other types of massage such as reflexology and aromatherapy were excluded.

And, the results.

  • Collectively, the results suggest that massage can alleviate a wide range of symptoms, including…
    • Pain
    • Nausea
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Anger
    • Stress
    • Fatigue
  • However, the methodological quality of these studies was poor, which prevents definitive conclusions.

The bottom line?
The professor concludes that yes, “the evidence is… encouraging.” But it’s not “compelling,” and more studies are warranted.

The Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City agrees. Massage can be expected to “effectively and safely reduce physical and emotional symptoms.”

Compared to pharmacologic treatments, “these therapies provide a favorable risk-benefit ratio and permit cancer survivors to help manage their own care.”

1/17/09 16:48 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.