Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients



Massage therapy is another recognized complementary and alternative therapy for cancer patients.

U.S. News & World Report, Health, September 16, 2008, shares information on a study connecting massage therapy and cancer pain relief and mood.

Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer

Reporting in the Sept. 16 Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that people who received massage from a licensed, specially trained therapist reported greater improvements in pain and mood symptoms than did people who received simple touch

The results however were short lasting and while it made cancer patients feel better there was no long term effect.

So, let’s take a deeper look at massage therapy. (that’s a pun!)

Per the American Cancer Society:

Studies of massage for cancer patients suggest massage can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue in some. Many health care professionals recognize massage as a useful, non-invasive addition to standard medical treatment. Therapeutic massage is most often given by trained massage therapists. Caregivers can also be trained to provide safe massage techniques.

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is the rubbing, massage, and or manipulation of the soft tissue and muscles of the body.

Massage Today lists over 50 different types of massage.

Who knew?

The site also lists benefits of massage therapy, including:

Physical and Mental Benefits

  • relaxes the whole body
  • loosens tight muscles
  • relieves tired and aching muscles
  • increases flexibility and range of motion
  • diminishes chronic pain
  • calms the nervous system
  • lowers blood pressure
  • lowers heart rate
  • enhances skin tone
  • assists in recovery from injuries and illness
  • strengthens the immune system
  • reduces tension headaches
  • reduces mental stress
  • improves concentration
  • promotes restful sleep
  • aids in mental relaxation

Licenses and Certifications

NCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) lists current licensing protocol for massage therapists.

Licenses or certifications for massage therapists include:

  • LMT Licensed Massage Therapist
  • LMP Licensed Massage Practitioner
  • CMT Certified Massage Therapist
  • NCTMB Has met the credentialing requirements (including
    passing an exam) of the National Certification
    Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork,
    for practicing therapeutic massage and bodywork
  • NCTM Has met the credentialing requirements (including
    passing an exam) of the National Certification
    Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork,
    for practicing therapeutic massage

NCAM also discusses the important basics to consider before choosing to complement your treatment regime with massage therapy:

As always, discuss any therapy you are considering with your health care provider and cancer treatment team and get their recommendations.

Know the cost of treatment and insurance response ahead of time. Explore the the plan of care options your massage therapist recommends for you, asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers. Ber sure to discuss the therapists experience with your condition.

Additionally, The University of San Diego Medical Center, Moores Cancer Center has these recommendations regarding massage therapy and cancer patients:

Massage should be avoided immediately following surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and over areas of known tumors. Patients with circulatory ailments such as phlebitis or varicose veins should avoid massage. Massage should never be performed on bruises, areas of tissue damage and inflamed or infected sites.

Interested in finding a massage therapist in your area? Then check out Massage Today’s massage locater.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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