Touch, Caring and Cancer: Professionals

One of the most comforting forms of support a caregiver can offer a loved one with cancer is the use of touch. Developed through original research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, Touch, Caring and Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends provides detailed instruction by leading experts in oncology massage for safe and simple techniques anyone can learn and apply.

This program prepares you to empower family caregivers with valuable caregiving skills by introducing Touch, Caring and Cancer in your setting. Users gain new confidence and satisfaction in caring for their loved one, and can provide this support at home multiple times per week — a clear advantage over less frequent and more costly visits to a professional.

CLICK HERE to see details of the caregiver education content and a video preview.

What You’ll Get with this Program

The Touch, Caring and Cancer program materials include:
        The instructional video content suitable for streaming in group settings
        The downloadable manual (PDF) for patients and caregivers
        The Safety Precautions Checklist (included in the manual)

The Guide for Professionals in Cancer Centers, Hospice Programs and Other Palliative Care Settings (PDF download) provides practical guidance from years of experience leading Touch, Caring and Cancer, including:
        Tips for facilitating group discussions with participants
        Suggestions for program planning
        Strategies for funding
        Other practical ideas for implementing this caregiver education program in palliative care and oncology settings

Consultation with Drs. Collinge and Kozak on implementation in your setting is also available at a discounted rate for users of this program. Contact us for more information.

Outcomes for Users of the Program

The NCI-sponsored randomized controlled trial found that caregivers using the Touch, Caring and Cancer program for a loved one at home achieved reductions in symptoms comparable to those of professional oncology massage therapists. Caregivers averaged 3 to 4 sessions per week of 18 minutes each, and their recipients reported the following effects from the sessions:

Pain – 34% reduction
Stress/anxiety – 44% reduction
Depression – 31% reduction
Nausea – 29% reduction
Fatigue – 32% reduction
Other symptoms – 42% reduction

Caregivers also increased in their sense of satisfaction with their ability to help their loved one feel better, and in their comfort and perceived self-efficacy using touch and massage in caregiving.

Click here to see the original research about the program published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer.


William Collinge, PhD, MPH is Associate Director of the Integrative Palliative Care Institute and directed the NCI-funded research on development and evaluation of the Touch, Caring and Cancer program. He is a practitioner in behavioral medicine and Principal Investigator of other NIH-sponsored projects in complementary therapies and palliative care.

Janet Kahn, PhD, NCTMB is Research Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine, and a clinician at the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Program. She is a massage therapist and was appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health.

Tracy Walton, MS, LMT, leads professional trainings in oncology massage nationally. She was Co-Investigator on a National Cancer Institute-sponsored study of caregiver training and the effects of massage in metastatic cancer patients at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and is a practicing massage therapist.

David Rosenthal, MD is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, on the staff of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and was first Director of its Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. He is also and CEO of Harvard University Health Services, and a former president of the American Cancer Society and of the Society for Integrative Oncology.

Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN is President of Mind & Life Institute, and formerly a Professor of Nursing at the University of Virginia and Emory University in Atlanta. Previously she was Director of The Cantor Center for Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


Where Has Touch, Caring and Cancer Been Used?

Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN
Alexian Brothers Hospital Network, Elk Grove Village, IL
Banksia Palliative Care Service, Australia
Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, Ware, MA
Beaver Medical Group, Banning, CA
Beth C Wright Cancer Resource Center, Ellsworth, ME
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Billings Clinic Cancer Center, Billings, MT
Bliss Cancer Center, Ames, IA
British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Cancer Care, Inc., New York, NY
Cancer Center for Health Living, Peoria, IL
Cancer Council Australia
Cancer Navigators GA, Rome, GA
Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne, IN
Cancer Support Community-Florida Suncoast, Sarasota, FL
Cape Fear Valley Cancer Center, Fayetteville, NC
Catholic Medical Center, Manchester, NH
Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA
Centegra Health System Sage Cancer Center, McHenry, IL
Center for Integrative Medicine, St. Francis Medical Center, Harford, CT

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What Users Say…

“I've seen the video so many times, I think I know it by heart now. B. really still prefers the "loving touch" on her extremities (head, face, feet and hands). I think it really helps her circulation. She usually takes a nap of 30 – 45 minutes after a session. They really relax her.  We do sessions flat on her back and she always falls asleep afterwards with the dog curled up next to her. This is really helping!  We both look forward to these sessions very much. Thank you for teaching us these techniques.”

“Our sessions have helped maintain a level of intimacy, despite my husband's chemo side effects.”

“It just keeps getting better! She is enjoying these sessions very much and looks forward to them as do I. Thank you so much for teaching us these techniques. What a fantastic experience!! It's been a privilege to be part of this study.  Thank you so much for accepting us.”

“My wife really seemed to enjoy the massage – she dozed a bit. I look forward to the next session. It brings us closer together.”

“Last Wednesday he had level five aches and pains. By using the “cat paws” technique I dropped it to a level one in about ten minutes – in another ten minutes he was snoring!! It's been a while since I was this proud of myself!! In a couple of weeks he'll be having radiation for the first time.  I want to go over the manual and video with him again to encourage him to try some other techniques but only the ones he wants – not me!!”

“I am grateful for this therapy that brings us together in a close and loving way and which helps W. to relax and eases her pain.”

“Just want to let you know how wonderful it was the first time we did the caring touch after having pain and/or just "hanging on" physically... to actually feel good – to feel pleasant sensations – what a gift. Thank you.”

“I am glad that I can help relieve W.’s pain. Foot massage works the best for her to calm her back pain. These sessions continue to be very beneficial to both of us and we are thankful for them. Reviewing the entire video at one time this week was a big help. I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to provide this helpful therapy for W. and myself. Thank you.”

“N. was sore from surgery and her neck was stiff. She said the massage helped and I felt great being able to help.”

“My partner really enjoyed the massage provided by me so that really reflects on me and makes me feel very good about myself.  Thank you.”

“J. seems to enjoy the massage sessions and is responding well. J.’s hands seem to be his biggest concern (neuropathy in fingertips) so we tend to focus on the hands the most. It appears the massage increases feeling in the hands.”

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