Should Cancer Patients Try Massage Therapy?


All types of cancer cause patients to experience physical symptoms and side effects that are not always easy to treat with traditional medicine. Cancers that are incurable, like mesothelioma, can also cause a great deal of mental and emotional distress for patients. To help cancer patients live their best lives and to be as comfortable as possible, medical teams must include alternative and complementary practitioners. Massage therapists, for instance, can provide a great deal of relief for someone living with cancer and its treatments.

Why Oncology Massage?

The specialized field of massage used to help cancer patients is called oncology massage. Practitioners are not only licensed and trained massage therapists, but have also received training in working with cancer patients. People living with cancer and its uncomfortable treatments may seek out massage therapy for a number of reasons: to feel more relaxed, to relieve pain, as a way to talk and share feelings in a less formal setting, to regain some mobility, and sometimes just to feel more hopeful about facing the day and life with cancer.

How Massage Benefits Cancer Patients

Although the reasons for seeking out an oncology massage specialist may be varied and personal, there are proven benefits of massage for cancer patients. Actual studies have found that these benefits are real and valuable and come from working with a professional massage therapist:

·Reduced pain. Massage therapy has long been known to reduce pain from a variety of sources. Cancer patients experience pain from tumors and their effects on the body, but also from treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Studies have found that massage therapy can minimize the pain associated with recovering from surgical treatments.

·Minimized fatigue. Cancer causes pain, but also fatigue. Cancer treatments also cause fatigue and this deep weariness makes normal activities difficult. Massage therapy is known to be able to boost energy and reduce the fatigue associated with cancer.

·Managing negative emotions. Living with cancer is more than just physically painful; it is also emotionally taxing. Cancer patients commonly experienced stress, anxiety, fear, and depression, but oncology massage can boost mood and help people better cope with these negative feelings.

In addition to these scientifically proven benefits of oncology massage there are other benefits that cancer patients report. Patients describe being able to sleep better with regular massage, experiencing greater clarity, enjoying improved mobility, and an overall improved quality of life.

Oncology Massage is Safe, but Requires Special Training

Licensed massage therapists can become trained in oncology massage as a specialty by working with another therapist trained in working with cancer patients or taking classes organized by hospitals or professional massage associations. The Society for Oncology Massage is a professional organization that lists recognized instructors in this specialty.

Massage therapists can also look to hospitals and cancer centers for training. Many of these health care facilities offer classes for therapists to learn how to work with cancer patients. Massage for cancer patients can be both safe and beneficial, but there are special considerations. Therapists with the right training can make a world of difference in the lives of people living with cancer.

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