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Objective: Cancer treatment is reported to be stressful, and patients diagnosed with hematologic cancers often exhibit higher levels of anxiety and emotional distress than individuals with other malignancies. Management ofthese symptoms in patients with hematologic cancer presents significant challenges, as many of them are in and outof the hospital while undergoing high dose chemotherapy. Oncology patients use complementary modalities such astherapeutic massage in an attempt to alleviate disease and treatment-related symptoms, including anxiety andemotional distress. In the current study, the feasibility of a novel massage intervention delivered over the continuumof care, as well as assessment of the immediate and cumulative effects of massage, was examined in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia.
Methods: A mixed-methods, unmasked, prospective, randomized study was conducted with two groups: a usual care alone control group and a massage therapy intervention plus usual care group.
Results: Significant improvements in levels of stress and health-related quality of life were observed in the massage therapy group versus the usual care alone group, after adjusting for anxiety level, including both immediate and cumulative effects of massage.
Conclusions: While the findings of the current study regarding acceptability, feasibility, and potential efficacy of therapeutic massage as a complementary health-enhancing intervention in patients diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia are very promising, the relatively small size of the study sample limits generalizability.