Comfort Based Oncology Massage

Creating a New Normal with Comfort Oriented Oncology Massage

One concern for people with cancer is that therapies involving bodywork might increase the risk that tissue manipulation will cause cancer cells to travel to other parts of the body. People should take the cautious approach and avoid massage near tumors and lumps that may be cancerous.  People with blood clots, burns, skin infections, open wounds, rashes, broken bones, or severe osteoporosis (bone thinning) need to have their massage modified with appropriate pressure, site or positional precautions.   Following surgery always make sure that your physician is aware of any scheduled massage, especially if there is any edema following surgery.   A Massage Therapist trained to work with cancer patients will know how to adapt a massage, especially if there has been nodal dissection.  In this way, patients can receive the benefits of massage during their cancer treatment period.

The American Cancer Society says…….

According to the American Cancer Society, “massage conducted by a trained, licensed professional is considered safe, as is myotherapy.  However, pressure that is improperly applied to muscles or applied in the wrong places may increase pain.” Dr. Lisa Corbin, University of Colorado Health Sciences, The Center for Integrative Medicine states, “massage therapy should be accepted and condoned as a potentially beneficial intervention for symptomatic relief in patients with cancer, and it can be safely incorporated into conventional care  of cancer patients.”

The side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment can be fatigue, pain and anxiety.  A safe and appropriate massage should cause none of those situations, but create a time to feel comfortable and calm.  With proper training in the precautions and contraindications of massage for the patient living with cancer, a safe and effective therapy session can relieve pain, decrease muscle tension, decrease anxiety before treatments.  Receiving a massage during chemotherapy or after radiation treatment can give a general feeling of well-being and feeling cared for.  Communication between the physician, patient and trained Massage Therapist gives the best opportunity for the patient to have the safest massage for their type of cancer.

Oncology Massage Therapy offered in an outpatient radiation center offers many opportunities to help with the side effects of treatment for cancer.  A gentle chair massage after a radiation treatment, when an arm has been extended for a period of time, greatly helps to ease the tension in that patient’s body.  Patients receiving radiation treatment must come every day for several weeks.  Many take their lunch break and then go back to work.  Others work all day and fit their treatment in before heading home to take care of their families.  Maintaining this type of schedule can be fatiguing and I encourage patients to make use of a relaxing chair massage during their treatment schedule.  Their letters to administration, from the patients and caregivers, are often most thankful for offering a service such as free massage within the hospital, and reinforces the need for Massage Therapy Programs in Cancer Centers.

Patients may experience neuropathy in their legs and arms from the side effects of chemotherapy.  Gentle massage and teaching simple arm and leg stretches may reduce muscle tension and ease the burning pain along with pins and needles sensations.  Many times patients comment that educating them on massage and simple stretches empowers them to take control of the symptoms that they are experiencing.  They are amazed when the stretches make a difference in controlling the symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy.

Anxious patients are amazed that a 10 minute neck and shoulder massage helps to end their nervous energy and relaxes them enough to sleep through part of their treatment time or take their mind away from the situation.  A gentle massage in an oncology center is pampered attention and diversion during stressful times; an opportunity to visualize being on a beach during chemotherapy treatment.

Benefits of Oncology Massage Possible for Cancer Patients

•  Decrease anxiety.

•  Reduce stress for patient.

•  Helps the caregiver.   Read More:

•  Small studies show it improves immune function.

•  Is a touch of tenderness, to “be with” someone at a time they need compassionate touch the most important?

•  Improves quality of life.

•  Helps with the side effects of treatment such as; lack of sleep, pain, nausea  and muscle tension.  Read more:

Memorial Cancer Center Support Services

Canadian Cancer Society Educates Public On Cancer and Massage

       Society for Oncology Massage –  I am proud to be a Founding Member of Society for Oncology Massage.  We are setting the standard for Oncology Massage and the level of training necessary to take care of patients; body, mind and spirit.

        Massage Therapy as Supportive Care Intervention for Children With Cancer

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