Massage Therapy Gives Relief From Chemo-Related Neuropathy


SAN FRANCISCO Massage therapy can provide symptomatic relief for chronic chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a new study suggests.

The number of weekly massage sessions that a patient received made a difference in symptom control.

A statistically and clinically significant improvement in scores on the Pain Quality Assessment Scale was seen among patients who received massage therapy three times a week as opposed to those who received it twice a week.

A sustained improvement in.  chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy was observed at 10 weeks in the group that received the most intensive regimen.

“This study builds upon integrative oncology methods to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors, and there are currently limited options for the relief of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy pain,” said study author Gabriel Lopez, MD, associate professor and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

“These findings introduce oncology massage as an additional option to help with symptom control and offer new insight into which massage treatment schedule may provide patients with the greatest benefit,” he added.

Lopez presented the study results here at the Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium (SCOS) 2019.

This meeting, which was organized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), was previously known as the Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium.

In 2017, the name was changed to Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium to be more inclusive, inasmuch as palliative care still tends to be associated only with end-of-life care. The name has now been shortened to reflect the wide range of supportive care services, an American Society of Clinical Oncology spokesperson explained to Medscape Medical News.

Common Side Effect of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of both short- and long-term treatment with platinum compounds and taxanes and can have a profound impact on quality of life, Lopez noted.

As there is an increased interest in the role that complementary approaches may play for symptom control, his team decided to investigate the effects of massage for symptomatic relief of chronic chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Their pilot study examined the optimum treatment schedule and initial efficacy of a standardized Swedish massage technique in treating symptoms associated with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy of the lower extremities.

The cohort included 71 patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy that developed following exposure to oxaliplatin, paclitaxel, or docetaxel. The patients self-reported a neuropathy score ≥3 on a scale of 0–10, and their last chemotherapy treatment occurred at least 6 months before the study period.


Massage Therapy Gives Relief From Chemo-Related Neuropathy,Roxanne Nelson, RN, BSN

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