Massage therapy is not contraindicated in cancer patients.
Massaging a tumor is, but there is a grat deal more to a person than a tumor.
----Bernie Siegel, MD
What Is Oncology Massage?
Oncology Massage is the modification of existing massage therapy techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment. Anyone who has ever received cancer treatment, from those in active treatment to those in recovery or survivorship, as well as those at the end of life, are best served by a massage therapist who has received training in oncology massage.
Essential aspects of an oncology massage therapist's skill set are an informed understanding of the disease itself and the many ways it can affect the human body; the side effects of cancer treatments, such as medications, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, and the ability to modify massage techniques in order to adapt for these side effects, as well as for the disease.
Why Oncology Massage Is Safe and Supportive Care
Formerly, there were some who believed that massage could cause cancer to metastasize (grow and spread) throughout the body in people who already have cancer. However, the more we learn about cancer and how it begins, grows and spreads, the more clearly we understand the safety and benefits of massage therapy for persons living with cancer.
Cancer is an accumulation of genetic mutations resulting from the presence of a very specific set of factors, which cannot be affected by manual manipulation of tissues or by increasing circulation. Massage, when modified specifically for oncology care, is no more detrimental than any activity of normal, daily liivng, and, in fact, has been found to provide many health benefits for people living with cancer.
Studies have shown that the top two benefits of massag therapy reported by people living with cancer are decreased perception of pain and decreased anxiety. Additional benefits include decreased nausea, anger and depression; increased dopamine and serotonin levels for an improved mood; improved immune function and increased natural killer (NK) cell and lymphocyte counts. Oncology massage is also helpful in restoring function and range of motion after surgery, releasing restrictive scar tissue, as well as addressing cording and chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).