NEW YORKAromatherapy massage reduces short-term anxiety in cancer patients, improves quality of life (QOL), and is perceived by cancer patients as being beneficial, according to results to date from evaluations conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom.
"This is one example of a therapy which certainly appears to be helping patients cope and live with cancer," said Susie Wilkinson, PhD, RN, head of palliative care research/senior lecturer in palliative care, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research and Development Unit, London. She spoke at a conference sponsored by Gilda’s Club Worldwide and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
An ongoing study of aromatherapy massage is notable because it is one of the few carefully designed evaluations of the effects of complementary therapies on cancer patients, Dr. Wilkinson said.
Cancer patients seek complementary therapies for a variety of reasons, such as failure of conventional treatment to produce a cure, adverse effects of chemotherapeutic regimens, lack of time and attention from busy practitioners, and, very often, dissatisfaction with the technical approach to treatment.
"Patients want to be able to explore these other approaches with their medical practitioners," Dr. Wilkinson said. "They want to be treated by doctors who see them more as a whole person."
Complementary therapies can also make cancer patients feel empowered that they have been able to do something for themselves. Aromatherapy massage, now commonly used in all Marie Curie Cancer Care hospices, may be one such empowering treatment, giving patients something they can choose to do about their mood. Studies show that between 23% and 40% of cancer patients suffer from clinically significant anxiety or depression.
Aromatherapy Pilot Study