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Massage Therapy in Treating Patients With Cancer Pain

This study has been completed.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Identifier:
First received: May 5, 2004
Last updated: December 17, 2015
Last verified: December 2015

RATIONALE: Massage therapy may help lessen pain caused by cancer.

PURPOSE: This randomized phase II trial is studying how well massage therapy works in treating patients with cancer pain.

Condition Intervention Phase
Unspecified Adult Solid Tumor, Protocol Specific
Other: massage therapy
Other: visit with a volunteer
Other: period of quiet time
Behavioral: questionaire about pain
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Official Title: Massage for the Treatment of Pain in Cancer: A Randomized Phase II Study

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • reduction in pain [ Time Frame: 24 hours after treatment ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    A mean change score equivalent to 2 points will be considered the minimum clinically significant reduction in pain

Enrollment: 92
Study Start Date: May 2003
Primary Completion Date: February 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: a massage
About 45 minute massage
Other: massage therapy Behavioral: questionaire about pain
Experimental: visit with a volunteer
45 minute visit
Other: visit with a volunteer Behavioral: questionaire about pain
Experimental: period of quiet time
45 minutes of quiet time
Other: period of quiet time Behavioral: questionaire about pain

Detailed Description:


  • Determine whether the effects of massage therapy in patients with cancer pain are sufficiently promising to warrant a definitive trial.
  • Determine the feasibility of a definitive trial.

OUTLINE: This is a randomized, controlled, pilot study. Patients are stratified according to in-patient status (yes vs no) and first baseline pain score ≥ 7 (yes vs no). Patients are randomized to 1 of 3 treatment arms.

  • Arm I (massage therapy): Patients receive a light touch ("Reiki") massage over 45 minutes.
  • Arm II (volunteer visit control): Patients receive a 45-minute visit from a trained volunteer who will be available to sit quietly or talk with the patient to discuss issues of concern, as desired by the patient. Volunteers will not touch the patient except to pat their shoulder or briefly hold their hand.
  • Arm III (quiet time control): Patients receive 45 minutes of quiet time. Pain and mood are assessed at baseline, immediately after treatment, at 6 hours and 24 hours after treatment, and then daily for the next 5 days after treatment.

PROJECTED ACCRUAL: A total of 60 patients will be accrued for this study.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 120 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


  • Diagnosis of cancer
  • Baseline pain score ≥ 2 on a 0-10 rating scale where 0 = no pain
  • Pain syndrome must be the result of cancer and/or cancer treatment

    • No postoperative or other acute procedural pain


  • Not specified


  • Concurrent pharmacologic pain therapy allowed
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00082290

United States, New York
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York, United States, 10065
Sponsors and Collaborators
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Principal Investigator: Barrie R. Cassileth, PhD Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  More Information

Responsible Party: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Identifier: NCT00082290     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 03-046 
Study First Received: May 5, 2004
Last Updated: December 17, 2015
Health Authority: United States: Institutional Review Board

Keywords provided by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center:
unspecified adult solid tumor, protocol specific
pain processed this record on October 25, 2016