The period following a diagnosis of cancer can be a devastating, stressful time for the patient. Immediately following the diagnosis, the patient will meet with his/her oncologist to discuss treatment options. Traditional treatment usually includes chemotherapy and radiation treatments to eliminate the cancerous cells. Other options that may be discussed include life style changes, diet, and exercise to be utilized with the traditional treatments. Many doctors are now also seeing the benefit of massage therapy in cancer patients. Massage therapy is used in addition to, not as a replacement for, traditional cancer treatment. Check out our directory of message therapists to find one in your area.
Medical benefits of a therapeutic massage are numerous. Studies have shown that massage therapy increase circulation and oxygen supply to healthy tissues allowing the body to work more effectively overall. Additional medical benefits includes decreased number of headaches and backaches, and decreases stiffness and arthritis symptoms. Therapeutic massage has also been shown to improve the functioning of the lymphatic system which helps promote wellness in cancer patients.
Massage therapy also has many mental health benefits. A diagnosis of cancer is very stressful. The patient will go through a wide range of emotions. Depression is common in cancer patients due to the potentially devastating nature of the disease. Massage therapy reduces stress and improves overall well-being of the patient. Studies have shown that stress reduction can greatly improve a patient’s ability to fight cancer. When utilized in the hospital setting, massage therapy has been shown to relieve pain and reduce anxiety.
While there are many benefits of massage therapy in cancer patients, there are some precautions that must be observed for maximum benefit and to reduce the chances of injury or illness. Massage should not be used immediately following surgery or treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Also, massage should not be utilized over bruises or areas where tumors are known to be present. Cancer patients with varicose veins should also avoid massage. The doctor and patient will discuss all treatment options and decide which route to take to treat cancer as well as treat the patients overall well-being.
Therapeutic massage can be performed in a number of settings and cost varies. Many hospitals and doctor offices now employ massage therapists as a service to their patients. Massage therapists also have private offices and many even come to the patient’s home. The national average cost for a therapeutic massage is $60.00 per hour. Some insurance companies will cover some or all of the costs of a therapeutic massage if the doctor orders the procedure as part of the treatment process; however, the cost is usually the sole responsibility of the patient. Finding a certified massage therapist and cost of the procedure are barriers to some cancer patients.
There are many benefits to massage therapy in the treatment of cancer. Massage is not a cure for the disease; however, it can be used in conjunction with traditional treatments to help reduce the stress inherent with a cancer diagnosis. Studies have shown that massage therapy greatly increases a patient’s overall sense of well-being while battling cancer.
For more information about Massage Therapy, check out the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.