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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

5 benefits of oncology massage

Updated: May 8

I’ve worked with cancer patients for over 20 years now – and it’s become not only a professional specialism, but also a personal passion. I’ve actually been offering ‘oncology massage’ for some time – and now it’s becoming recognised in its own right as an effective and gentle therapy for cancer patients, I wanted to highlight some key benefits and share more about this wonderful therapy to help get the word out to those who need it.

How can integrative treatments like oncology massage support cancer treatment and recovery?

I initially trained as a clinical therapist working exclusively in a medical environment – but as my career progressed, I became more interested in (and eventually passionate about) integrative treatments. These holistic, minimally invasive therapies focus on alleviating the symptoms of illness and side-effects of treatment, whilst also offering a variety of additional benefits for body and mind. I quickly saw a need for treatments that were not only effective when dealing with disease, but which also addressed the quality of life and overall wellbeing of patients.

When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, I began to understand even more deeply the need for sensitive and holistic therapeutic oncology care which focused not just on the cancer but also the individual and their emotional and physical health needs.

Over the years I’ve witnessed the remarkable results integrative oncology treatments (including oncology massage) can bring for patients at all stages of their cancer journey – including diagnosis, during treatment and palliative care. Because integrative treatments are minimally invasive, they’re generally safe and beneficial for everyone – making them an accessible and versatile option for patients.

What is oncology massage?

Oncology massage is the term given to any type of therapeutic massage offered to support people living with cancer. It is a treatment in itself, and rather than targeting the disease it focuses on alleviating symptoms and side-effects of treatments such as medicines, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Massage itself offers a variety of benefits for body and mind, from improved circulation and a reduction in inflammation and swelling to minimising stress. Massage should always be targeted to suit the patient – and therapeutic massage goes a step further, addressing specific needs and concerns whilst offering all the benefits of massage you’d usually expect such as deep relaxation and a feeling of lightness.

What can I expect from an oncology massage?

During an oncology massage you will experience all the usual things you’d expect from a massage. Prior to treatment we’ll sit down and discuss your individual symptoms and objectives. We’ll then work on targeted areas or apply certain techniques depending on your specific concerns. As a qualified physiotherapist and therapeutic massage specialist I will be on hand to guide you and develop a treatment plan based on the information you provide.

As always, the massage will be tailored fully to your needs following an initial consultation to discuss your unique situation. I also offer different types of massage and additional complementary treatments such as aromatherapy and reflexology to further enhance the benefits of your oncology massage.

5 benefits of oncology massage

Scientific research conducted on the benefits of oncology massage is still in its early stages – but preliminary studies are already revealing positive results. These are just a few of the key benefits of oncology massage for people living with cancer.

1/ Stress and anxiety support

Anxiety and stress are naturally a concern for many people living with cancer. The worry, uncertainty and upheaval that comes with a diagnosis can exacerbate existing conditions or cause them to develop. Massage is well-known for its relaxation benefits – and science supports this, with studies showing that levels of the stress hormone cortisol are found to be significantly lower after massage treatments.

2/ Alleviate nausea

Nausea can be one of the most debilitating side-effects of chemotherapy – and finding relief isn’t always straightforward. Alongside anecdotal evidence from patients themselves, several studies have found that oncology massage therapy can reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It’s important to note that the effects of oncology massage on nausea were amplified when accompanied by conventional medical treatments, and that of course massage isn’t a substitute for medications prescribed by your doctor.

3/ Fight fatigue

Fatigue is an incredibly common symptom both of cancer treatments and cancer itself. Massage is most often thought of as a method of relaxation which can aid sleep quality and bring a sense of calm – and it can also naturally boost energy levels. Although fatigue isn’t life-threatening, it’s a symptom that can certainly disrupt day-to-day life and can be incredibly frustrating.

Many people report having more energy in the days and weeks following an oncology massage. One 2018 study showed that oncology massage resulted in a significant improvement in cancer-related fatigue in people diagnosed with stage 0-3 breast cancer.

4/ Pain relief

Massage alone can’t deal with pain fully and shouldn’t be relied upon to completely replace pain medications – but it certainly offers relief without side-effects. Oncology massage has been shown to alleviate different types of pain – including chronic pain following surgery, and chemotherapy-related neuropathic pain. Scientifically we’re still not quite sure how this works, but it is thought to be linked to the higher levels of endorphins which are released after a massage treatment.

5/ Overall sense of wellbeing and improved quality of life

It can be difficult to cultivate a sense of wellness and maintain good quality of life following a diagnosis of cancer. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed, are in remission or undergoing treatment, regular massage can help you to feel more like yourself again.

Book an oncology massage with me today:

If you’d like to book an oncology massage with me or simply want to learn more to determine whether it’s right for you, please get in touch by clicking here

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