Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients


Alicia D Massage Therapy – Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

**written by Samantha Harris,**

Standard cancer therapies like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are extremely difficult on the body, and can cause side effects that are nearly as difficult to live with as the cancer itself. Recently, massage therapy has been proposed as a palliative treatment to reduce pain and make the patient more comfortable. While no one is claiming that massage alone can cure cancer, it can be a useful treatment for those looking for relief from symptoms of mesothelioma or other cancers.

The Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, recommends massage therapy as a complement to standard cancer treatment. The center’s website points out that massage can improve circulation and relaxation while reducing stress. Rubbing muscles causes blood vessels to dilate, which in turn promotes the distribution of oxygen in the bloodstream throughout the body. The American Cancer Society notes that massage is good for the spirit as well as the body, enhancing quality of life and increasing well-being. The Moores Cancer Center does caution patients to forgo massages immediately after traditional cancer treatments. The therapist should avoid performing massage over areas of known tumors, bruises, tissue damage, or sites of inflammation or infection.

Surprisingly, receiving a massage is not the only way to receive benefits from the practice – giving a massage is helpful, too. One 1998 study from the Journal of Applied Gerontology asked elderly volunteers to give massages to infant children. These volunteers had a greater reduction in both stress hormones and doctor visits in comparison with elderly patients who had actually received massages. While this study did not research the particular effects of giving massages on cancer, doctors agree that physical touch is a crucial factor in establishing social support, which in turn is an integral part of recovery and well-being.

Sadly, there are times when even standard treatments will not be effective against certain types of cancer. Mesothelioma life expectancy, in particular, is poor, with only about 10% of patients surviving for five years after diagnosis. In these cases, massage therapy can be used to provide relief from pain and make the patient comfortable for the remainder of his or her life. A good massage therapist will be able to communicate with the cancer patient, whatever his or her health status, to create a plan for therapy that will be most beneficial.

*thanks Samantha for submitting a very compelling and informative article! Hopefully, we will enjoy many more in the future!*