Cancer Massage, often called Oncology
Massage, is performed in such a way to meet the specific needs of individuals currently
dealing with cancer, cancer treatments, complications from cancer, those in
remission or completely healed from cancer. Oncology Massage Therapists are well informed
and have a strong understanding of the disease itself and the many ways it may
affect a human body, mind, and spirit.
How is Cancer Massage Different?
Sessions are most often modified by:
- Session Length
- Type of therapy
- Depth of touch pressure
- Client Positioning on the table
To meet the unique needs of each client to
make them both manageable for the client and also to compliment other
treatments they client is currently receiving, we strive to make the massage
safe and supportive to the cancer patient by using touch intended to help you
reconnect with your body in a kind and healing way.
The heart of the session is intended to
enhance healing by “doing no harm” to clients whose body may be dealing with
one or more of the following:
- Stressed from radiation or chemotherapy
- Recovering from surgery
- At risk for developing Lymphedema (LyE)
- Lowered immune function
- Swelling or edema
- Ports, drains, expanders, implants, and other
temporary or permanent devices
At the same time, the cancer massage is
intended to lesson symptoms and enhance recovery time from things such as:
- Chemo Brain / Brain Fog
- Swelling and inflammation
- Digestive issues
- Lack of appetite
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Fatigue, malaise, and exhaustion
- Scar tissue restrictions
- Reduced range of
- Anxiety, depression, emotional overwhelm,
- Compromised organ function and system
- Low blood counts
- Lymph Node removal or involvement
Cancer Massage Techniques vary and are adapted to the unique needs of each client
Cancer Techniques may include Energy Healing
Healing Techniques for Cancer
Techniques which are most commonly used to
support a cancer massage session at LymphWorks office are:
Here at LymphWorks we are very familiar with many forms of cancer and
the specific needs that arise when conducting a healing session. Whether you are dealing with Breast Cancer,
Prostate Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, or others. We may
suggest the best timing for your treatments and modify the modalities used to accommodate
your changing state of cancer treatment, recovery and healing. Some studies of massage for cancer patients
suggest that it can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue. Here
at LymphWorks, we know that it can do much more than that!
Other Considerations for Cancer Massage
Based on our professional experience we often take into consideration
- Radiation: During and after radiation you
will experience tissue shrinkage and range of motion limitations that can
continue to worsen for up to a year afterward.
This may ultimately change your posture and create pain patterns in your
body. We use Myofascial Release techniques
and Scar techniques to address and often prevent these issues.
- Lymph Node Biopsy, Dissection or Removal: If you
have had lymphatic system involvement, your risk for Lymphedema increases. We utilize Lymph Drainage Therapy techniques,
including manual lymphatic mapping to identify and support the healthy movement
patterns of you lymph. We will educate
you on LyE prevention, signs and symptoms, and notify you when we feel you may
need additional care or diagnosis. The lymphatic system health is also a great
indicator of infection or recurrence.
Our Lymph Drainage Therapists will be another pair of eyes and hands for
you in ensuring continued healing.
- Scars: Post surgical or radiation scars are
expected and common. When the scars
mature, we use Myofascial Release techniques, scar massage, and Lymphatic
techniques to realign this tissue and allow for improved movement and appearance!
- Swelling: Post-surgical swelling, full body
inflammation after chemotherapy, changes to hormones, possible infections, or
low immunity can lead to swelling. Lymph
Drainage Therapy is the technique most used for this symptom.
- Surgery: Whether it’s just a biopsy, tumor
removal, reconstruction, mastectomy, or more, we utilize many techniques to
address your post-surgical experiences.
- Nausea: Chemo may cause vomiting or general
malaise and nausea usually within the first 3 days of treatment. Therapy can and will be adjusted to ensure
this symptom is not worsened. Lymph
Drainage Therapy and gentle massage techniques can help lessen the duration or the
experience of nausea. It may be
suggested that you receive Lymph Drainage therapy 3 days before chemotherapy to
ready the body and lessen the symptoms afterward.
- Fatigue or Low Energy Level: You may be tired
and unable to maintain your normal activity level. Rest is critical to the restoration and
recovery of your tissues. Your level and
tolerance to massage may vary from day to day because of this. Therefore, the duration of your cancer massage
session can be adjusted so that energies levels are supported and not
- Emotional pain, anxiety, depression: We
create a non-judgmental, supportive, and deeply relaxing environment where the
release of emotional fears and baggage may occur. The time spend in our massage
room is often considered a reprieve to many burdens cancer patients experience
in their daily lives. Instead of being poked and prodded, you are nurtured and
cared for. Many patients tell us of increased feelings of well-being, being
pleasantly distracted, improved body self-image and restored hope. Then there is the satisfaction of actively
participating in a part of the healing process and having control over a part
of your healing process. Consider Energy Healing techniques for a deeper
connection to Self or to receive clarity of meaning around your healing
- Organ Vitality and Function: Post
Chemotherapy Lymph Drainage Therapy and Visceral Manipulation may be used to cleanse,
detoxify and mobilized your organs and improve the organ circulation and
functionality. Particular attention may be paid to the Liver, Kidneys, small
intestine and large intestines.
Constipation is often lessened or eliminated for several days to several
weeks after cancer massage. Digestion
may also improve.
- Chemotherapy: Although chemo is more
customized than ever before and is targeted toward fast growing cells, it also
affects normal cells, tissues and organs.
Side effects of chemo vary greatly and some may linger. Consider avoiding cancer massage techniques 3
days prior to chemo and begin cancer massage techniques 3 days or more after
“expected” worst day. Lymph Drainage
Therapy is one of the more useful techniques for the toxicity and symptoms
associated with Chemotherapy drug treatments.
- Anesthesia and Pain medications: Just like
chemotherapy, lymph drainage therapy, energy healing and massage techniques can
aid in faster metabolism of these drugs out of your body systems so that
healing can occur.
- Reduced Immune Function: Lymph Drainage
Therapy may be utilized to stimulate the immune system health and functionality
and increase immune cell circulation within the body. This may make it more likely for unhealthy
cells to be identified and removed from your body!
- Compromised blood cell counts: Patients with low blood platelet counts or
who are taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin) may be
susceptible to easy bruising and should ask their doctor whether massage is
safe for them. Massage pressure will be
adapted and lightened when platelets are low or the risk of blood clots is high
and we can always adapt the therapy (lymph drainage or energy healing instead
of massage). Additionally, here at
LymphWorks, we do our best to maintain a clean and sterile environment but
suggest the client wear face mask if they are at risk for infections or
illness. We are willing and able to wear
non-latex gloves and masks ourselves to create a safer environment. We encourage slow/gradual transitions on and
off the table due to the symptoms that altered blood cell counts may cause. Finally, recommendations to support blood
circulation will be offered as will referrals to qualified nutritional practitioners
who can support the “rebuilding of your blood” in a natural way if the client
- Ports, Lines, Drainage Tubes, expanders,
implants, catheters, and other medical devices: We will avoid disturbing these items and
position the client for comfort. There may be a time
when you are unable to lie down on your front and we have pillows and bolsters
available to make you as comfortable as possible in a chair, if needed, on your back
and/or on your side.
- Bone Integrity: Many cancer treatments
include the administration of estrogen reducing drugs or drugs that may reduce
the density of bones. Adjustments to
pressure and types of massage may be made for this very reason.
- Skin Changes:
Chemo and radiation may cause rashes, inflammation, open wounds, burns. Sometimes skin becomes thin, fragile, or
unstable. We will take the appropriate precautions with pressure, friction and
lubricants and avoid contact with wounds. Therapists may also wear non-latex gloves when appropriate.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Cancer patients can
experience numbness, tingling, burning in hands and or feet which can subside
after treatment or last indefinitely. Changes
in sensation in certain areas of your body is very common. Sometimes nerve regrowth can cause zinging,
pain or tingling or burning too. Our
qualified therapists will adapt your therapy as needed to address these
- Brain Fog / Chemo Brain: Cognitive problems are
common during and after cancer treatment. Many clients indicate our therapies bring increased
alertness and mental clarity along with other detoxification benefits. We will send automated appointment reminders to
prompt you to remember upcoming appointments.
Additionally, clear and simple communication and hand-outs will also be
shared with you so that you can review material discussed when you return home.
Many of our therapies are known to reduce pain and spasms due to the stimulation
of your own body’s parasympathetic response during your session.
- Mouth Sores (Mucositis): On rare occasion this
symptom of chemo may limit a cancer patient’s ability to lay on the face rest. Positions on the massage table will be
altered as needed.
- Active cancer treatment, recently into recovery,
or at end of life: We will adapt your
cancer massage therapy based on the stage of your treatment or recovery. Certain massage modifications will remain
crucial even decades after cancer treatment is complete such as those to prevent Lymphedema. Improved quality of life or support during a
client’s final stages is a priority.
- Tumor site or metastasis: Therapy may be adapted based on where the
cancer may be in your body. "In the past, therapists thought massage would increase circulation and therefore cause cancer to spread. The
process of metastasis is very complicated and poorly understood;
however increased circulation is not considered a significant part of
that process by itself." (MD Anderson Cancer Center)
- Medications (short and long term): We keep a
list of common cancer medications, their uses, risks, and side effects on hand
in our office to assist our therapists and clients in identifying if the
symptom they are experiencing may be related to their current medication or may
be something that should be discussed with their doctor.
- Inability to travel: We offer remote energy healing sessions for
those who are unable to make it to our offices.
Is Cancer Massage Right for Me?
If you are wondering if cancer massage is
right for you, the general answer is probably yes. If you cancer is currently under medical
control (you are being treated by a Physician or Naturopath), a well trained LymphWorks
therapist can provide safe and effective cancer massage or cancer healing therapies
for just about any person at any stage of their cancer journey. Relying on this treatment alone and delaying
or avoiding conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health
consequences. We strongly recommend that you come with a note, referral or
prescription from your treating physician.
Many health care professionals recognize massage as a useful,
noninvasive addition to standard medical treatment.
Massage therapy is practiced in many
different ways by therapists with many different levels of training, so please
share this website or a brochure with your Physician to let them know that
LymphWorks therapists are well versed in creating and adjusting customized,
complementary, and appropriate care for Cancer patients. We encourage the physician to be included in
the cancer massage care plan if or when needed.
Please contact us directly if you have questions about how and if this
complementary therapy can support you in your cancer journey.
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