A randomized pilot study of oncology massage to treat chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

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This pilot randomized controlled trial investigated massage therapy for symptomatic relief of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) to determine the ideal weekly frequency and number of weeks of providing massage. We evaluated the feasibility and initial efficacy of a Swedish massage protocol to treat lower extremity (LE) CIPN. Inclusion criteria: LE neuropathy attributed to oxaliplatin, paclitaxel, or docetaxel, with no other attributable causes; ≥ 6 months since last chemotherapy; self-reported neuropathy score ≥ 3, 0–10 scale; age ≥ 18. Participant randomization (2:2:1:1) to one of four groups: LE (2) or head/neck/shoulder (control; 1) massage 3 times (3X) a week for 4 weeks; LE (2) or control (1) massage 2X/week for 6 weeks. Completion rate and the Pain Quality Assessment Scale (PQAS) was measured at baseline and 10 weeks later. 71 patients participated: 77.5% women; 57.7% (breast cancer), and 42.3% (GI cancer); mean age 60.3 y/o (range: 40–77); average > 3 years since last chemotherapy. Massage was deemed feasible: mean completion rates (max = 12) were 8.9 (SD 4.2) for 3X/week and 9.8 (SD 4.0) for 2X/week with no statistically significant differences. There were no statistically significant treatment group interactions in PQAS scores at 10-weeks follow-up. There was a statistically significant treatment schedule main effect for PQAS subscales (p < 0.05) at 10 weeks, with lower CIPN symptoms for 3X/week groups versus 2X/week groups. Improvements considered clinically significant favored the LE 3X/week group. Completion rates met pre-defined feasibility criteria. We seemed to observe better outcomes (CIPN symptom reduction) with the more intensive (3X/week for 4 weeks) massage intervention with no differences in adherence, regardless of whether the massage was directly to the CIPN-affected area or not. However, there was some suggestion that the massage program targeting the CIPN-affected area directly provided 3X a week for 4 weeks resulted in the best outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19023
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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