Many cancer patients find that using complimentary treatments, such as massage therapy, helps them tremendously in coping with illness symptoms. Often, routine touch massage helps patients with colon cancer, breast cancer and mesothelioma address feelings of fatigue and depression.
Recommended Forms of Massage Therapy
According to the American Cancer Society, light touch massage therapy is the most beneficial form of massage therapy for cancer patients. The masseuse lightly or gently stroking the surface of the skin, stimulating blood circulation and relaxation, performs light touch therapy.
Deep tissue massage is not recommended for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment, since it may cause bruising and pain. Patients that have mesothelioma cancer should also indulge in shorter massages with a licensed therapist. Swedish massage is often recommended because it encourages blood circulation and involves manipulation of muscle tissue immediately under the skin surface.
Many cancer patients also find massage performed with warm or hot rocks relaxing. With this type of massage therapy, warm stones are place on the patient’s back, deeply penetrating muscles with warm soothing heat. Afterward, the massage therapist applies essential oils to the skin and gently rubs it in for relaxation.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Although massage therapy is not a cure for cancer, it certainly can help with many symptoms of cancer. Often, receiving weekly massage sessions helps with the fatigue associated with cancer and cancer treatments. Patients report feeling relaxed and energized after a massage session. As a result, they may feel an improvement in feelings of anxiety and depression that often come with having cancer.
Another benefit from using massage therapy is pain relief. Often, patients report they feel an improvement in pain symptoms during and after a massage session. This may be due to the release of endorphins that results from muscle manipulation. In many cases, the use of massage therapy and other complimentary medicine treatments can be a positive alternative to using strong narcotic pain medications for cancer patients.
Massage therapy sessions may be performed with the patient clothed or unclothed. If the patient is unclothed, they are draped with a protective sheet while the masseuse works with them. Massages take place on a massage table, on which the patient lays down. It is important that you tell the massage therapist if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment. If you are receiving radiation treatment, the massage therapist needs to avoid skin where you are receiving radiation, since it will be very tender and sensitive.
Most massage therapists play soft music during the massage session. This usually helps patients relax. Also, massage therapists typically use soothing essential oils during the massage to help their hands glide easily over skin. If you are allergic to any oils or have sensitive skin, it is important to let the therapist know this before you start your massage.
Massage therapy sessions generally take 30, 60 or 90 minutes, depending on what type of massage you are receiving.
Massage therapy can be an excellent complimentary form of treatment if you have cancer. Self-care is an important part of addressing your illness and routine massages can help with fatigue, depression and anxiety. Many patients find they feel better after a massage and enjoy the experience.
Article courtesy of Melanie L. Bowen.
Another alternative cancer modality is ozone therapy, where enriched oxygen (ozone) are added to the body transdermally in an ozone sauna. This prohibits cancer cells from thriving as cancer cannot live in oxygen enriched cells. Combining this with massage therapy can have positive results when conventional methods prove to harsh on the body.