October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, drawing our attention to a disease that will be diagnosed in nearly 334,000 Americans in 2021 alone. For those suffering the physical and emotional burdens of breast cancer, massage therapy can offer relief that may otherwise be difficult to find, ameliorating the effects of invasive procedures, pharmaceutical side effects, and the pain and stress of the disease itself.
What are the benefits of massage for cancer patients?
Specialized forms of oncology massage therapy are practiced in hospitals, clinics, and outpatient environments across the country. Massage during cancer treatment and recovery has numerous benefits, including:
- Reduced nausea caused by chemotherapy or other pharmaceutical treatments
- Decreased pain from the disease itself or surgical interventions
- Treatment of neuropathy
- Reduced depression, anxiety, and stress
- Improved mood and sleep
- Strengthened immune system function
But for someone living with cancer—or undergoing treatment—there are unique considerations when utilizing massage therapy. Employing a massage therapist with extensive knowledge and education in oncology massage can make a world of difference in the patient’s experience and vastly improve the massage’s benefits. Such a therapist has typically completed hands-on training in the treatment of patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, in addition to coursework on pertinent topics, such as manual lymph drainage.
What should patients and therapists know about massage for cancer patients?
Some factors to consider for both patient and therapist when receiving or performing oncology massage include:
- Massage for people receiving radiation or chemotherapy requires a therapist with the knowledge and ability to assess appropriate levels of pressure, treatment/medication contraindications, and therapy side effects via a thorough medical assessment.
- Therapists should be trained in how to massage clients at risk for lymphedema (often a side effect of surgical node dissection or radiation to nodes in a given area).
- Patients with certain blood cancers should seek out a therapist capable of assessing the appropriate use of soft tissue manipulation when blood counts are low or other conditions exist, such as weakened bones caused by myeloma.
- Oncology massage therapists must be particularly mindful of medical devices and appliances such as a port, IV, catheter, or ostomy bags.
Most importantly, every oncology massage—and every patient—is unique. A therapist trained in oncology massage will conduct a detailed medical review prior to a patient’s first session, so he or she can accommodate the patient’s unique circumstances, such as surgeries, side effects of treatment, blood cell counts and medical devices.
Should you schedule an oncology massage?
With the right practitioner, massage therapy can offer cancer patients the opportunity to be pain-free, worry-free, and experience physical and emotional rest—a much-needed respite from the daily burdens of cancer.
Are you or a loved one thinking about booking an oncology massage? Zeel can send skilled, licensed massage therapists who specialize in this area to homes, hospitals, or other locations nationwide. Zeel on-location massage is available 7 days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays—because nothing should get in the way of treatments that can help make life with cancer easier.
To schedule a massage, download the Zeel app for iPhone or Android, or go to zeel.com.