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Massage Therapy for Reducing Stress Hormones and Enhancing Immune Function in Breast Cancer Survivors

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Annual summary rept. 1 Aug 2000-31 Jul 2001

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The objectives and specific aims of the ongoing study are to evaluate massage and relaxation therapies for an ethnically diverse group of women with early stages of breast cancer Stages 1 and 2 for 1 decreasing anxiety, stress and stress hormones, 2 decreasing depressed mood and increasing serotonin a biochemical that diminishes with depression and 3 increasing Natural Killer cell number and cytotoxicity immune measures that fight tumors and viruses. During the course of the three-year study, 60 women diagnosed with Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer will be recruited and assigned to a massage therapy n20, a relaxation therapy n20 or a control group n20. Women in the massage and relaxation therapies will receive 3 sessions a week for 5 weeks. On the first and last day of a 5 week period, self-report measures will be collected on anxiety and depression and women will submit a urine sample and have their blood drawn to assay treatment effects on stress hormones and immune measures. Findings thus far on a subsample of 46 women reveal for the massage therapy group 1 reduced anxiety, 2 improved mood, 3 increased serotonin and dopamine levels and 4 increased Natural Killer cell numbers and lymphocytes for the relaxation group, findings include reduced anxiety and improved mood and increased lymphocyte percent. These preliminary findings are encouraging and provide support for the hypotheses that massage and relaxation therapies enhance mood and immune function for women with breast cancer.

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  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Stress Physiology

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