Massage can help cancer patients in many different ways. Although it is not used as a way to directly treat cancer, it can help to treat symptoms of cancer therapies. Massage can be used to:
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and/or depression
- Reduce muscle stiffness and soreness
- Improve circulation and lymphatic flow
- Promote sleep quality
- Reduce fatigue
- Reduce pain
- Reduce nausea
- Improve range of motion
- Promote scar healing
Is massage safe for people with cancer?
YES! There is a myth that massage therapy can cause cancer to spread through the lymph nodes and vessels but this has been proven wrong. Massage does not spread cancer cells. Movement of the lymph fluid through the lymphatic system occurs while we are using our muscles to do daily tasks.
You should ask your doctor about any specific precautions pertaining to recent chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. Massage treatments will vary from person to person, but generally, light massage can be used to promote relaxation and a sense of well being in any stage of cancer treatment and recovery.
Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system which has a close relationship with breast cancer interventions. Often after having a mastectomy, a tumor removed from the breast, or having lymph nodes removed you may develop swelling in the arms, chest, and/or hands. Manual Lymphatic drainage can be used in this instance to help reduce the swelling and guide the fluid back to the proper lymph nodes. See our previous blog post on Manual Lymphatic Drainage for more information about this type of massage.
Loved Ones and Caretakers
Massage can be just as beneficial to the person with cancer as it can be to their caretakers and loved ones. Often times, as caretakers, we become so focused on the recovery and health of the person with cancer that we forget to take care of ourselves. Loved ones undergo many stresses, anxieties, and physical issues while focusing most of their energy on the person with cancer. The many, many doctor’s appointments, visits to the hospital, and the home care required can take a toll on a cancer patient’s loved one, and this is important to address.
If you think you could benefit from massage in these ways contact us today to book an appointment!
Written by: Kristen Noack, Registered Massage Therapist, Certified Lymphedema Therapist