Cancer and cancer treatment are physically and mentally taxing for both patients and caregivers – what if there was a non-medication-related way to reduce stress and worry?
So, what can it do for you?
The Benefits of Oncology Massage for Cancer Patients
Medical programs to treat cancer are notoriously harsh on the body and mind, both because of the stress of the whole ordeal and the side effects. The results speak for themselves – medical treatment works! However, it is not pleasant, and many people seek out alternatives or something to make things more tolerable. So, what works? Massage!
Massage is the manipulation of soft tissue – skin, muscles and the nerves beneath to relieve tension and stress in the body, and improve blood flow through the body. Massages can vary in intensity, region of the body, and length. Massages need to be adapted to the needs and vulnerabilities of cancer patients but also offer significant and proven benefits. In a study with 343 patients and 87 caregivers, massage treatment relieved their physical, psychological, social, and “spiritual” distress across the board. This led to better sleep, lower fatigue, anxiety, and pain, and better overall feelings of well-being. The frequency of the massage sessions seemed to have more of an effect than the length of the massage session (30 minutes vs. 60 minutes).
Massages can reduce pain and nausea and improve emotional health. It may also help with depression and mood disorders. The potential benefits of massage for cancer are great, but there are a few things to keep in mind when looking at oncology massage.
Massage for People with Cancer
First, massage does not ‘spread cancer’. This is an old wives tale. Complementary and integrative medicine, the use of so-called alternative therapies alongside Western medicine, is becoming more respected by the year Integrating oncology massage into other medical programs, including chemotherapy, reduces barriers to controlling symptoms and improves the experience enormously. After all, patients tend not to miss massage appointments, and so more frequent sessions can be done, usually without issue.
Sometimes massage can be provided alongside chemotherapy treatment, often in the form of foot or hand massages, to relax the rest of the body. Massage during treatment can ease the stress, pain, and fatigue from the chemo treatment, and these effects can persist weeks beyond the actual massage itself.
Things to Keep in Mind with Oncology Massage
Oncology massage requires specific training to massage the patient while being mindful of mediports, swelling, higher levels of pain and stress, and other symptoms of cancer or its treatment.
A trained therapist will avoid surgical scars, radiation treatment areas, and tumours, and will use light pressure in the cases of bone disease and lymphoedema. A properly trained therapist will also not do massage if blood counts are low.
Always tell your therapist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. They will need to adjust their methods to cope. Physical weakness due to treatment, heart problems, arthritis, or bone fractures will also potentially cause complications.
People thinking of oncology massage should check with their doctor before the massage, or before trying any other alternative therapy. Massages can potentially make you feel lightheaded due to relief or blood flow changes, sleepy or tired from relaxation, thirsty, or emotionally sensitive due to stress relief.
The Takeaway About Oncology Massage
I am a trained therapist and can provide massages tailored to your care needs. I will work with your treatment program and give you the relaxing environment that you need to feel your best. You are in safe hands.
Other posts that you may be interested in: The Healing Power of Mindfulness For Cancer Patients
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