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Massage for People Living with Cancer

Oncology Massage

Oncology massage is a particular form of massage therapy that is customized to meet the needs of a person who is currently going through cancer treatment, or has a cancer history. It is important for a massage therapist who wants to work with cancer patients to have specialized training in cancer care. The massage needs to be client specific and must consider all of the possible short and long-term side effects of treatment. Massage therapists who give oncology massage sessions must have a comprehensive understanding of their client’s cancer history and current course of treatment, in order to take proper precautions and consider the modifications needed for a safe, effective massage.

8 Benefits of Massage for General Side Effects

  1. Anxiety – Massage reduces anxiety in advance of surgery or other forms of treatment. Oncology massage sessions provide positive touch that puts patients at ease.
  2. Stress – Patients receiving oncology massage report reduced stress in advance of or following treatment. Short, gentle massage sessions activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers cortisol levels, relieves stress, and gives a sense of overall wellbeing.
  3. Insomnia – Regular massage sessions relax the body and mind, decreasing pain and, for some patients, ultimately preventing insomnia.
  4. Constipation – When the body relaxes, the digestive system works more effectively and efficiently. If the body is relaxed, there is a decrease in pain, and less need for pain medications that can cause constipation. Specific abdominal massage techniques also help to ease constipation.
  5. Nausea – Massage is reportedly a “pleasant distraction” that can help reduce nausea caused by nervousness, anxiety, or chemotherapy treatments. With less nausea, patients have increased nutritional intake and less weight loss.
  6. Pain – Massage helps decrease pain. Oncology massage is effective at decreasing post-surgical pain and lessens the need for pain reducing medications.
  7. Depression – As patients journey through their disease processes, they feel hopeful and more positive after receiving massage. Patients report that massage feels satisfying, amazing, and decreases stress and pain. Oncology massage is a way for patients to feel more present in their recovery process. The massage sessions keep their spirits up, so they can focus on healing.
  8. Fatigue – Oncology massage increases alertness and mental clarity in patients. When patients receive massage following treatment, they report a reduction in fatigue, so they can move about their day without always feeling tired.

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