Massage therapy has been shown to reduce metastatic bone pain, relieve cancer patients’ anxiety and improve mood in cancer patients; therefore, it is a natural component of palliative care.

The authors of a new article say palliative care, the practice of relieving suffering and improving quality of life for people with serious illness, is an effective means of addressing chronic pain and improving quality of life in cancer patients.

“A holistic approach to the treatment of cancer pain that helps patients cope with their psychological, social and spiritual needs, as well as managing pain, might enhance treatment outcomes, ease suffering, and improve quality of life,” notes a press release from the British medical journal The Lancet, which has published a series on chronic pain.

“Efforts to relieve pain are welcome, but might not adequately improve quality of life or reduce suffering if they unfold separately from the so-called whole-person concerns associated with serious life-threatening illness,” said Russell Portenoy, M.D., of Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York, New York. “A broad therapeutic approach know as palliative care … is needed to address these complex needs.”

The press release noted that research suggests poorly relieved cancer pain is common and as many as 43 percent of cancer patients receive analgesics in a manner that is inconsistent with internationally accepted guidelines.

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