Relax Your Mind, Body, and Spirit: How Massage Therapy Can Be Beneficial in Cancer Care

Melanie Bowen

Awareness Advocate for Natural Health

2 0 1 2Jul03

Relax Your Mind, Body, and Spirit: How Massage Therapy Can Be Beneficial in Cancer Care

Posted by Melanie Bowen

Prevailing medical wisdom long held the belief that massage therapy would have more negative effects on cancer patients than positive ones, but many medical professionals are challenging that ruling. The fear surrounding massage therapy for cancer patients stems back to the idea that malignant cancer tumors could spread to other parts of the body due to the superior circulation that massage therapy could provide. Many experts claim that scientific research does not support this position and that people with breast cancer, mesothelioma, and other types of cancers may benefit in several ways from receiving massage therapy.

Receiving treatment for cancer is stressful and painful, and a qualified massage therapist can help relieve those symptoms. A good masseuse can relax muscles, relieve pressure, and release pain; cancer patients who have received massage therapy often comment on how the massages often helped relieve the pain and stress associated with having cancer. Since cancer treatments are so painful and draining, not every patient will feel up to having a massage. Since there are different types of cancer, treatments, and different styles of massaging, each patient will have to find the combination that’s best for him or her.

Massage therapists offer a wide variety of bodywork options. Acupressure, Swedish massage, shiatsu, sports massage, and neuromuscular therapy are a few of the choices from which cancer patients can choose. Some massage types stick to light massages while others require a heavier hand. Massage speed may also vary; some types require slow, steady massaging while other massage types use a quicker massaging method. Cancer patients may wish to avoid receiving massage therapy near a tumor location as such stimulation may cause pain and other medical problems.

Massage proponents also claim that receiving massage therapy can boost both the patient’s mood and immune system. Some claim that massaging releases chemicals called endorphins in the body, producing feelings of pleasure and well-being in the patient. Others claim that receiving regular massages can increase the patient’s immune system and can even cause the body to produce more cancer-fighting cells. Most doctors hesitate to call massage therapy a cure for cancer since no link has ever truly been proven between the two, but some studies have produced results that seem to link massage therapy to cancer patient benefits.

While there are neither positive nor negative concrete links between massage therapy and cancer, several studies as well as numerous anecdotes from cancer patients put massage therapy for cancer patients in a positive light. One undisputed point is that massages reduce stress and pain, and many cancer patients who receive some sort of massage therapy report a significant reduction of symptoms after receiving bodywork.

Whether or not massage therapy actually results in negative effects for cancer cells, there is little scientific evidence to support the claim that massage therapy worsens cancer. Patients who are contemplating receiving massage therapy should consult their physicians before beginning their bodywork regimes since doctors should be aware of all types of therapy their cancer patients are receiving.

Who doesn’t love the opportunity to relax their mind, body and spirit? Give yourself a vacation from some of life’s trials and tribulations and immerse yourself in massage therapy and get your serenity back!

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