When you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer it can be all too easy to become wrapped up in the disease and the treatment needed to fight it. Whilst the physical care of the person is taken care of it can be easy to overlook the mental health and everyday lives of the patient.

Many holistic therapy’s that won’t help cure cancer, can help improve the daily life of the sufferer by relieving pain and lowering stress and anxiety levels.

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a form of treatment that includes pressing, tapping, stroking and needing the body’s soft tissues. It has been used for centuries has a form of both mental and physical relaxation and focuses on specific tissues, muscles, pressure points and acupuncture points.

Massage therapy comes in many forms, including; Swedish massage, aromatherapy massage, deep tissue massage, reflexology and other forms of sports massage.

More gentle approaches to massage, such as aromatherapy, is used to release endorphins and reduce the feeling of pain, whilst more intense forms of massage, such as Swedish massage, can help to stimulate blood circulation and ease tight muscles than can reduce pain levels.

How can it Help Cancer Patients?

Many cancer patients have a daily battle with stress, pain and anxiety. Massage can greatly relieve all of those problems, without the need of invasive drugs or continued medication. Massage has been proven to lift your overall mood, target insomnia and decrease stress levels.

In 2009 a UK study into how massage therapy could help cancer patients found that sufferers felt reduced symptoms of pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, anger, stress and fatigue — however the quality of the trials were deemed poor, so it is not possible to make a definite correlation.

An American study in 2008, also found that massage helped to treat pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea and depression. However their results were also inconclusive due to low quality studies — however the evidence did suggest that the strongest correlation was between massage and a lowered level of anxiety.

Who Shouldn’t opt for Massage Therapy?

If you’re currently undergoing cancer treatment, have an overall feeling of weakness, suffer from bone fractures, heart problems or arthritis or you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding it is not advised that you undergo any commercial massage therapy without first discussing it with your doctor or specialist.

You may find there is an adapted treatment available in your local cancer care clinic, hospice or GP surgery. It is also important to be sure your massage therapist has the correct qualifications and insurance to be able to practice.

Avoid deep massages if you currently have cancer and try not to massage any areas where you receiving localised radiotherapy, or where the skin is broken, bleeding or bruised. Take special care if you’re suffering with lymphoedema it is advisable to avoid massage on the arms and legs, unless you are seeing a specialist for manual lymphatic drainage.

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