According to a recent study in the Sept. 16 “Annals of Internal Medicine”; survivors coping with advanced cancer receive some relief from pain and depression from massage therapy.

The researchers found that survivors who received massage from a licensed, specially trained therapist reported greater improvements in pain and mood symptoms than did people who received simple touch therapy. However, these improvements were not durable and did not last over time.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jean Kutner, an associate professor of medicine at the University Of Colorado Denver School Of Medicine said, “Our goal was to see if massage therapy compared to simple touch would be beneficial,”

The researchers measured patient outcomes immediately after massage sessions, and found that “massage was better than simple touch for pain and mood. But, on a weekly basis, there was no difference between the groups…..So, massage was better in the immediate time frame, but didn’t appear to have a sustained effect.”

The study included 380 adults with advanced lung, breast, pancreatic, colorectal and prostate cancer. All of the subjects reported at least moderate pain, and most also were receiving hospice care.

Half of the subject group received at least one massage therapy session from licensed therapists trained in oncology massage who had at least six months’ experience in cancer massage. The remaining subjects were given “simple touch” therapy. (Simple touch consisted of having a therapist place both hands on the patient for three minutes at 10 specific body sites).

All subjects were interviewed before and after each session, asking about pain and mood. Subjects were then re-interviewed three weeks later to assess if the therapy had any lo