Massage and Cancer

Massage therapy, when done by trained therapists, is safe and beneficial for cancer patients. It can alleviate common treatment-related issues such as nausea, fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems, offering comfort during a challenging journey. Massage does not spread cancer; metastasis involves complex genetic changes.

Do massage and cancer work well together?

A cancer diagnosis is scary. There’s no other way to say it. And the treatments can sometimes be as scary as the disease itself. Chemo, radiation, and surgeries can have intense side effects, some that last a lifetime.

Many cancer patients experience

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • poor sleep

One aide in this incredibly difficult situation that many don’t think of, is massage therapy. While massage will not have an effect on the cancer itself, it can help to ease many of the problems associated with the treatments, such as those listed above.

Many people wonder if massage is safe for cancer patients and the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, special training in oncology massage prepares therapists to work with cancer patients at any stage. The Society for Oncology Massage (S4OM) defines oncology massage as “the modification of existing massage therapy techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment.” Light, relaxing massage is safe for people at all stages of cancer. In fact, massage has been shown to decrease nausea, fatigue, and pain, and improve anxiety, depression, and sleep. And while massage is considered safe, it is still important to seek out a massage therapist with oncology massage training to ensure they understand treatment protocols and contraindications that may be present depending on your specific case.  Something you may also want to consider is one of our weekly mobility/stretch classes. LifeStretch is an amazing class that helps soothe your body, mind and spirit while working through entire fascial lines to help restore broken movement patterns.  And consider picking up a Coregeous ball at your next visit to gently roll out some of those tissues that have been restricted due to radiation and reconstruction and adding in a Sankalpa to your daily practice.

One concern that many people present with is ‘can massage spread cancer?’. The answer is no. Metastasis (spreading of cancer cells) is a complex process that requires changes in cellular DNA, and is not influenced by the increased lymphatic flow that may occur during a massage.

So if you or someone you know is battling this horrible disease, massage therapy may be the answer to many of the unpleasant side effects of the disease and the treatments. Our resident holistic health expert Natalie has a tremendous amount of experience dealing with post surgical massage and is always happy to discuss things that may help you on your path.

In Good Hands,

Rebecca Tamm, LMT



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