Benefits of Oncology Massage~ Editorial written by Melanie L. Bowen

Have You Heard About the Benefits Of Oncology Massage?

Many massage therapists specialize in oncology massage. This type of massage is recommended for cancer patients to alleviate stress associated with the disease. When stress is reduced and muscles are relaxed, the immune system has a better chance of fighting cancer-causing free radicals and toxins. Cancer patients of all types, including mesothelioma, can benefit from cancer massage.

How is Oncology Massage Different from Regular Massage?
Oncology massage therapists pay close attention to the amount of pressure applied to the body. The body may become sensitive during chemotherapy and may not be able to withstand the pressure of other types of massages. Oncology massages measure the pressure applied to minimize pain.

During the massage, the focus is on alleviating stress, anxiety and pain. Many massage therapists purport that massages increase the production of endorphins, as it does in exercise. Endorphins help to improve mood and also to remove lactic acid waste from muscles. Since exercise is recommended for cancer patients, massage can also alleviate the fatigued associated with excessive exercise and arthritis.

Myotherapy is a type of massage often used to reduce 95 percent of pain in muscles. With this form of massage, patients require fewer pain medications. They also report improved stamina and better sleep patterns. During myotherapy massage, the focus is on trigger points or knots in the muscle that may cause limited range of motion. Swedish massage or deep tissue massage may also be incorporated with oncology massage techniques.

What is the Supporting Evidence for the Efficacy of Massage?
Many cancer centers are using massage to help cancer patients recover. In fact, nearly half of cancer treatment centers also have oncology masseurs on staff.  Experts have shown that cancer patients who receive massage on a regular basis manage their symptoms better and improve the quality of life. They are inconclusive that massage slows the spread of cancer.

Some cancer patients state that massage reduces anxiety, fatigue and depression. According to a 2005 study, experts concluded that there may be scientific evidence supporting their claims. Randomized controlled trials were conducted to reveal these findings. More studies are required to make any definitive conclusions.

Can Any Cancer Patient Use Therapeutic Massage for Relief?
Most cancer patients will benefit from massage. People with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis or other bone conditions may feel discomfort from deep pressure associated with massage. Physicians should be consulted prior to a regimen. A light touch massage may be prescribed for cancer patients.

Cancer patients with tumors and lumps should avoid massage in the area where the tumor is located. Cancer cells may travel to other areas of the body when massaged. Patients with low platelet count, associated with chemotherapy, may be susceptible to bruising. Massage may not be recommended for them. Patients taking a blood thinning medication, such as warfarin, should also consult a physician before engaging in a regular massage therapy routine.

Consider Incorporating Massage Therapy into Your Cancer Treatments
Massage therapy is a great way to reduce stress associated with having cancer. It can help the body heal faster by boosting the immune system. Every cancer patient should consider how massage therapy can help manage pain, fatigue, stress levels and overall well-being.