Children with cancer experience multiple troubling symptoms. Massage offers a safe, non-pharmacological approach to address these symptoms. Numerous studies of massage in children and adults with cancer have been performed, yet most are unable to demonstrate significant benefit. This review aims to summarize what we know about the role of massage and sets goals and challenges for future massage research. This paper descriptively reviews the existing literature available in PubMed (both prior reviews and select papers) and the holes in prior research studies. Prior research on massage has been limited by small sample size/insufficient power, inappropriate outcome measures or timing, heterogeneous patient populations, inconsistent intervention techniques, and other design flaws. Based on the findings and limitations of previous work, numerous suggestions are made for future studies to increase the potency of findings, including thoughts about appropriate dosing, control groups, type of intervention, outcome measures, patient selection, feasibility, and statistics.
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