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Oncology (cancer) massage

Oncology massage aims to ease pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Swedish, foot and light-touch massage are common modalities for alleviating the pain of patients with cancer.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: October 3, 2013

Oncology massage is a focused style of bodywork used to help patients with cancer cope with the physical, emotional and psycho-social symptoms of their condition. Scientific literature suggests that oncology massage can help to improve the quality of a patient's life, resulting in relaxation, better sleep, increased immune function and relief from anxiety, discomfort, fatigue and nausea. In one study of more than 1,000 patients who rated their symptoms before and after massages, investigators learned that patients' symptoms immediately improved after massage. Because of this—and other parallel studies with similar findings—many hospitals and cancer centers now offer massage to patients undergoing inpatient procedures.

What It's Good For

Oncology massage can help to relieve many of the symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments, such as anxiety, pain, depression, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy and nausea. One study, published in 2008 by the National Institutes of Health, found that human contact, afforded by massage, served as a significant complement to cancer treatment.

How long it lasts: When booked privately, a massage can last for as little or as long as the patient prefers. Most sessions last around 30 minutes. In a hospital setting, massages are generally shorter in duration.

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