Oncology massage is a particular form of massage therapy that is customized to meet the needs of a person who is currently going through cancer treatment, or has a cancer history. It is important for a massage therapist who wants to work with cancer patients to have specialized training in cancer care. The massage needs to be client specific and must consider all of the possible short and long-term side effects of treatment. Massage therapists who give oncology massage sessions must have a comprehensive understanding of their client’s cancer history and current course of treatment, in order to take proper precautions and consider the modifications needed for a safe, effective massage.
Combating the Side Effects
Cancer can take patients on a long journey. Often, a course of treatment may last months or years from beginning to end and it is both physically and emotionally challenging. With the course of treatment comes a myriad of side effects. When treatment finishes, the patient is also left with recovering from the consequences of cancer medications, possible surgery, and a roller coaster of emotions. Massage therapy is effective at tackling everything from the more general side effects of cancer, to the specific post-treatment (i.e. radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery) outcomes.
8 Benefits of Massage for General Side Effects
- Anxiety – Massage reduces anxiety in advance of surgery or other forms of treatment. Oncology massage sessions provide positive touch that puts patients at ease.
- Stress – Patients receiving oncology massage report reduced stress in advance of or following treatment. Short, gentle massage sessions activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers cortisol levels, relieves stress, and gives a sense of overall wellbeing.
- Insomnia – Regular massage sessions relax the body and mind, decreasing pain and, for some patients, ultimately preventing insomnia.
- Constipation – When the body relaxes, the digestive system works more effectively and efficiently. If the body is relaxed, there is a decrease in