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The effect of massage therapy on fatigue after chemotherapy in gastrointestinal cancer patients

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Gastrointestinal cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy usually suffer from fatigue, which may affect different aspects of their lives.


The current study aimed to investigate the effect of massage therapy on fatigue after chemotherapy in gastrointestinal cancer patients.


In this quasi-experimental study, 88 gastrointestinal cancer patients were randomly allocated into two groups of intervention and control. Patients received the chemotherapy for 3 h. The intervention group received four sessions of foot massage with an interval of 40 min during the chemotherapy. The massage duration was 7 min for each foot. Fatigue was measured using the visual analogue scale to evaluate fatigue severity just after and 24 h after the chemotherapy. Friedman and Mann–Whitney U tests were used to analyze the data.


The mean age of patients was 59/18 ± 9/35, and the most common type of cancer was gastric cancer (40%). There was a significant difference in the mean score of fatigue between the two groups immediately after (P > 0.001) and 24 h after chemotherapy (P < 0.001). In the intervention group, fatigue score decreased gradually (P = 0.031), while it increased in the control group (P = 0.001).


This study demonstrated that foot massage, as a simple method, could reduce chemotherapy-induced fatigue.

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National Comprehensive Cancer Network


World Health Organization


Visual analogue scale of fatigue


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The authors express their thanks to Deputy of Research and Technology of Guilan University of Medical Sciences for the financial support. Also, we thank all medical and nursing staff of chemotherapy department in the Razi Hospital, where patients were recruited. Finally, the authors wish to thank all the participating patients.


This research was financially supported by Deputy of Research and Technology of Guilan University of Medical Sciences.

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Authors and Affiliations



Conceptualization: Javad Alizadeh, Mohammad Reza Yeganeh, Moluk Pouralizadeh.

Methodology: Javad Alizadeh, Mohammad Reza Yeganeh, Moluk Pouralizadeh.

Formal analysis and investigation: Zahra Atrkar Roushan.

Writing-original draft preparation: Javad Alizadeh.

Writing-review and editing: Javad Alizadeh and Moluk Pouralizadeh.

Data collection: Javad Alizadeh and Sara Khoshamouz.

Resources: Javad Alizadeh and Moluk Pouralizadeh.

Supervision: Cyrus Gharib and Moluk Pouralizadeh.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Moluk Pouralizadeh.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the standards of the ethics committee of the Guilan University of Medical Sciences with ethical code: IR.GUMS. REC.1398.337 and with the Helsinki declaration.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Alizadeh, J., Yeganeh, M.R., Pouralizadeh, M. et al. The effect of massage therapy on fatigue after chemotherapy in gastrointestinal cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 29, 7307–7314 (2021).

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