Although rumor abounds about massage, there is NO scientific study that demonstrates that massage should be completely avoided in cancer patients.
Knowledable practitioners and doctors do agree that the area of the tumor should be avoided. No pressure should ever be placed on the tumor. It is advised that massage therapists avoid using deep techniques.
Nursing literature does support the use of gentle massage. Obviously there are benefits. Among them is simple relaxation and pain reduction.
It is believed that patients can gain a feeling of control and their attitude and body image can benefit too.
Since research has shown that premature infants gain 47% more weight if massaged at least 15 minutes at a time, several times a day, it does not seem too big a leap of faith to see immune system benefits in massage.
"Indeed the National Cancer Institute endorses the use of massage, pressure and vibration for musculoskeletal pain during all phases of treatment." (Touching Cancer Patients, Guidelines for Massage Therapists by Donna Williams, an article in Massage magazine March/April 2000).
According to Ms. Williams, hospitals that offer massage therapy report "that patients who are touched experience a greater sense of relaxation and less insomnia, nausea, anxiety, depression, pain and need for medication."
She suggests that hot and cold therapy NOT be used on the treament area of those undergoing radiation-since the area may be hypersensitive.
A gentle massage of head, neck, shoulders, back and feet is recommended in the nursing literature for relaxation and the reduction of pain.
Some hospitals offer massage therapy as a part of their standard of care.
Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain
Massage Benefits Hospitalized CA Patients
Massage therapy & opioids to relieve postoperative pain
Chair massage for patients and carers
Massage Therapy versus Simple Touch
Cancer Nursing, 8/01
Healing Touch Feels Better
J Bodywork & Movement Therapies,
J Nurs Scholarsh, 12/02
Research: Benefits of Massage for Bca Pts
LINK to Cambridge, MA-based
massage therapist, teacher, trainer
Probably greatly increased by now, 10/05
LINK to supplier of "original Basalt Massage Stones as well as other stones - such as Chakra stones, cold stones, spa heaters & a full range of accessories".
LINK to SF- Bay area
clinic (415) 218-1477
Article by Toni Muirhead
LINK: site provides practical tools, encouragement and inspiration to those wanting to be a source of healing for a loved one.
LINK: "Massage Liability Insurance Group (MLIG) provides Massage
Therapist, Massage Therapy Students, & Massage Therapy Schools with
Massage Liability Insurance, through various Massage Therapy insurance
plans, Massage Marketing Materials, Massage Business Support, Massage
News, & Massage Articles".
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