Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment according to the National Cancer Institute. Many breast cancer survivors describe their fatigue as more intense than the feelings of being tired that we all experience from time to time. Reported characteristics include feeling tired, weak, worn-out, heavy, slow, or lack of energy and difficulty getting-up-and-going.
Currently, researchers from Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University are investigating the benefits of massage therapy on breast cancer survivors with extreme fatigue.
“We decided to look at massage therapy for cancer fatigue because cancer-related fatigue is one of the most prevalent and debilitating symptoms experienced by people with cancer,” explains Mark Rapaport, MD, principle investigator for this study. “Many studies investigating massage for patients with cancer have been focused on depression, anxiety or pain.”
“We already know that frequent massage can enhance the immune system and reduce anxiety, and it has been reported that massage therapy can stimulate energy, and reduce symptoms such as nausea and pain,” says Mylin Torres, MD, associate professor in Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology, serves as a co-investigator on the study. “We believe that there are many positive effects to be gained by therapeutic massage and we hope to prove that, among other biological advantages, massage may diminish the incapacitation that cancer-related fatigue can cause for our patients.”
Participants in the six-week study are post-surgery breast cancer patients, between the ages of 18 and 65, who have been treated with standard chemotherapy, chemoprevention and/or radiation, and are suffering with breast cancer-related fatigue. They are broken into three groups.
- Group one receives a typical Swedish-type massage
- Group two does not receive a massage
- Group three receives a light touch massage.
Throughout the clinical trial, participants’ vital signs are taken and blood drawn to check for immune markers. The study staff also regularly checks in with each participant to record any changes in their life or their health. So far, the findings are promising.
View this Fox21 news clip to learn more about recent findings from the cancer fatigue trial!
- More information about the cancer fatigue clinical trial can be found in the original press release: Therapeutic massage takes on cancer fatigue.
- Click to learn more about clinical trials at Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute.
- Key Steps for Coping with Cancer-Related Fatigue
- Clinical Trials: Leading the Way to Better Health Care