Clinical massage for cancer patients
I was told that massage is contraindicated for cancer because it may help spread the cancer. Is this true?
No. As Bernie Seigel says, "Massage is not contraindicated for cancer, massaging the tumor is." There is no clinical proof that massage will help spread cancer. And the benefits of massage, i.e. – pain and stress reduction, far outweigh the risks.
Will my insurance pay for massage therapy?
Health insurance almost never pays for massage therapy even if you have a prescription from your physician. We suggest you contact you insurance provider.
Are their any contraindications for massage therapy?
There are many contraindications for massage and cancer patients. Which is why we request your oncologist's approval before your first massage therapy session.
Are their periods during my treatment program that I should avoid massage?
Yes. During Chemotherapy treatment blood count for platelets and/or white blood cells may drop below normal levels. Also, during radiation treatment the skin develop minor burns. These are a few examples of the treatment side effects that your massage therapist must be familiar with before proceeding with massage.
Why shouldn't I consider using the massage therapist I used before I developed cancer?
Your massage therapist needs to have a thorough knowledge of the cancer and its treatment, the correct amount of pressure to use, what areas to avoid and the potential side effects.
Benefits of massage for cancer patients
- In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research the Touch Research Institute found that for breast cancer patients massage therapy reduced anxiety and depression and improved immune function including increased natural killer cell number. Additionally, breast cancer patients have improved immune functions following massage therapy.
- Ferrel-Torry & Glick (1003) examined the effects of therapeutic massage with cancer pain. They found that massage therapy reduced pain perception by an average of 60%, decreased anxiety by 24% and enhanced relaxation by 58%.
- In a study published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy the Touch Research Institute conducted a study on the effects of massage therapy for Leukemia. Twenty children with leukemia were provided with daily massages by their parents and were compared to a standard treatment control group. Following a month of massage therapy, depressed mood decreased in the children's parents, and the children's white blood cell and neutrophil counts increased.
Benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients may include:
- Pain Reduction
- Increase Relaxation
- Stimulate Lymphatic System
- Reduce Muscle Tension
- Feel Better, Do Better
"If you don't feel you cannot heal...Our bodies speak the truth. We must be in touch to live our true destiny."
- Bernie Siegel MD
Greg Jolly WCMT trained in message therapy for patients with cancer in New York at the Integrative Medicine Service of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
8320 West Bluemound Rd., Suite 125 A
Wauwatosa, WI 53213