The benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients are well-established; new research shows that people who have survived cancer could benefit from massage more than can the general population.

The new research shows that long-term survivors of adult cancers are almost twice as likely to report psychological distress severe enough to cause moderate to serious problems functioning in social, work or school situations, compared to the general population

Massage therapy has been shown to lessen some effects of cancer, including pain, anxiety, nausea , fatigue and depression. In September MASSAGE Magazine reported that new research shows massage is safe for advanced-cancer patients. Another, earlier, study showed that massage decreased pain, symptom distress and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients; while other research showed that massage reduced depression, anxiety and anger in women with breast cancer.

Additional results of the new, national study show that younger long-term cancer survivors, those less than 65 years old, were more likely to experience severe psychological distress than those survivors aged 65 and older. The study also found that there was no difference in the number of years since the cancer diagnosis and increased risk of distress. Long-term cancer survivors are individuals who have lived five years or more beyond their initial cancer diagnosis.

Cancer survivors were more likely to report severe psychological distress than adults never diagnosed with cancer. In addition to other findings, survivors who were not married or living with a partner, had less than a high school education, were uninsured, were current or former smokers, or had difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living were more likely to experience severe distress than those without these characteristics.

Results were presented Sept. 24 at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology‘s 50th Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

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