Massage in supportive cancer care

Semin Oncol Nurs. 2012 Feb;28(1):45-54. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2011.11.005.


Objective: To review recent findings on the utilization of massage by cancer patients, including evidence of effects in supportive and palliative cancer care, current understanding of safety considerations and adaptations needed, education of professional and family caregivers to provide this form of support, and guidelines for oncology nurses in referring patients.

Data sources: Journal articles, government and special health reports, book chapters, and web-based resources.

Conclusion: The massage profession and the disciplines of clinical oncology have experienced a rapprochement in recent decades over questions of safety and efficacy. However, there is now significant recognition of the potential contributions of massage in supportive care, as well as greater understanding of the modifications needed in offering massage to cancer patients.

Implications for nursing practice: Massage offers significant potential for benefiting quality of life when applied with proper understanding of the adaptations needed to accommodate the needs and vulnerabilities of cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Massage*
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Patient Care
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological*