Massage Therapy and Cancer

Massage therapy for cancer patients has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years.  It is a healing form that dates back to ancient times when civilizations in the East and West used natural healing and massage to heal injuries, relieve pain, as well as prevent and cure illness.  

The medical community recognizes the healing qualities of massage, and it has earned its place alongside other therapies used in hospitals and treatment centers across the globe to improve the quality of life for people suffering from all kinds of illnesses including cancer.

Cancer patients are treated differently than people without the disease. Therapists trained in oncology massage are the best professionals to administer the therapy because they have a thorough understanding of cancer’s effect on the body, as well as side effects that can result from cancer surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medications.

Massage treatment follows a thorough assessment of the patient which includes assessing the location of the cancer tumor, involvement of lymph nodes, affected blood cell counts, involvement of organs, risk of blood clots, weak and unstable tissue, immune system issues, and current medication and prescriptions, pain, loss of sensation, and history of treatment. Cancer patients should also tell the therapist of any symptoms they are experiencing. Most of the times, a letter from the oncologist to the massage therapist helps.

The therapy can take place at the patient’s home, a cancer treatment center, or a hospital setting. To get maximum benefits, massage should be carried out at a place free form noise and distractions. Subdued lighting and relaxing music helps the patient relax.

Massages can be done while the patient lies face down, or sits upright in a chair.  It is meant to be a positive experience. Reporting any side effects like pain, as well as, how one feels several hours after the massage is very important for the therapy to go well.


Massage and Healthcare

According to the AMTA 2015 consumer survey, an average of 18 percent of adult Americans received at least one massage between July 2014 and July 2015, and an average of 27 percent of adult Americans received a massage in the previous five years.  18 percent of these customers reported receiving their last massage at a massage therapist’s office, surpassing spas as the top place to receive massage for the first time.  

Also according to this research, people received massage for the primary reason of health and wellness.  Out of these 19 percent received massage treatment for pain relief and management; 15 percent for soreness, stiffness or spasm; 11 percent for injury recovery or rehabilitation; 5 percent to keep fit, healthy or for wellness; 1 percent for pregnancy or prenatal healthcare; 33 percent for relaxation and stress reduction; and 11 percent for a feel-good feeling.

In July 2015, more than fifty-one million American adults had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or health care providers in the previous year.  Of those, health care providers referred 69 percent to a therapist.  55 percent of massage therapists received at least one referral every six months or less from a hospital or medical office in 2015.

More and more consumers and therapists are favoring the integration of massage into healthcare.  About 65 percent Americans would like massage therapy to be part of their health insurance coverage.