Cancer massage is an approach to therapeutic massage based both in compassion and specialized massage treatments to help people manage their experience with cancer. There is no evidence at this time that massage therapy can treat cancer itself, however, there is evidence that massage therapy helps people with cancer physically and emotionally, and it can improve their quality of life.
People often use massage therapy to help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. It can also be used to help reduce pain (such as headaches and low back pain), anxiety and stress. It improves circulation and promotes relaxation and a sense of well-being. It can also help with problems sleeping (insomnia), improve sleep quality and reduce nausea.
Side Effects and risks of Massage Therapy
Talk to your health care team if you’re considering massage therapy. Be sure to tell your massage therapist that you have cancer, and about any treatments that you have had or are currently having, and any medications that you are taking. Depending on your overall health, and the conventional cancer treatments you are receiving, you may need to avoid certain types of massage.
If you have damaged blood vessels or a bleeding disorder, such as easy bruising and bleeding or blood clots, you should not have a massage. If you are taking blood thinners, you should avoid massage or only have very gentle, light touch massage to prevent bruising and bleeding.
If you have osteoporosis or a cancer that has spread to the bone (called metastasis), having physical manipulation or deep pressure massage may lead to bone breakage (fractures).
If you have had radiation therapy, you may find it uncomfortable to have the treatment area touched, even lightly. If you do find massage comfortable but are still having radiation treatment, don’t use lotion or oil on the area that receives radiation.
Some people have minor bruising or swelling or notice that their muscles feel even more sore shortly after massage.
Some people worry that the area of a tumor can increase the flow of blood and lymph fluid, causing cancer cells to break away and travel to other parts of the body. Recent evidence suggests that the speed of blood or lymph circulation has nothing to do with the spread of cancer cells.
Massage is safe for people with cancer.
To read more, please visit www.cancer.ca