What is the medical community saying about oncology massage?

Currently, massage therapy is seen in a wide spectrum of ways ranging from "Sure, can't hurt." and "What's the value in that?" to "Of course I recommend massage for my patients." and "Every person should have massage."

Massage in general has a long way to go and oncology massage has an equally long way to go before it is widely accepted within the medical community as an automatic and understood adjunct to mainstream treatments and interventions.  Many cancer centers around the world are now incorporating massage therapy in the typical progression of treatment for their patients, but even some of these centers don't know about the importance of proper training or how and where to get it.  

Nevertheless, an understanding of the value of massage is growing within the medical community and is likely to continue to do so as awareness increases among health professionals and training improves for therapists.

"No single therapeutic agent can be compared in efficiency with this familiar but perfect tool... the human hand. If half as much research had been expended on the principles governing manual treatment as upon pharmacology, the hand would be esteemed today on a par with drugs in acceptability and power."

J. Madison Taylor, M.D. 1908

"Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City is a national leader in cancer treatment.  Researchers recently surveyed patients who had therapeutic massage added to their treatment regimens.  Over a three year period, results impressively confirmed the value of massage.  Anxiety levels decreased by 52%, pain by 40%, fatigue by 41%, depression by 32%, and nausea by 21%.  Researchers concluded that massage is a "markedly effective, uncommonly noninvasive and inexpensive way" to control symptoms for cancer patients."

"Technical advances are important but we need to remember the difference between treating the disease and treating a patient. Massage is an extension of the time honored principle of laying on of hands. Massage therapy can help reduce stress, fears, and pain - all of this without side effects.  Whether the mechanism of action of massage is physiologic or psychologic matters not to me. The fact that it makes the patients feel better and allows them to better deal with their illness or treatment is good enough for me."  -Adapted from "Better Living & Health", Portland  (Maine) Press-Herald, Summer, 2006

"Massage therapy is not contraindicated in cancer patients, massaging a tumor is, but there is a great deal more to a person than the tumor."  -Roger E. Alberty, MD, Director - Department of Surgery, St. Vincent's Medical Center, Portland, Oregon