If this cycle remains unbroken, their mental and emotional health can suffer just as much as their physical health. That's where oncology massage comes in. This style of massage therapy is specially tailored to relax, nurture, and support patients who are facing ongoing cancer treatment.
How Does Oncology Massage Help Cancer Patients?
Initially, cancer specialists were distrustful of oncology massage. There were fears that this practice would both improve circulation and break apart tumors, allowing the disease to spread throughout the body. Over the last 15 years, these fears have been disproven and information about the benefits of massage have taken their place.
According to the Society for Oncology Massage (S4OM), the benefits of oncology massage are essential to the healing process. Healing doesn't just take place on a physical level, it is mental and emotional as well. The conditional benefits will vary greatly from patient to patient, but generally include:
- deep relaxation
- reduced stress
- improved sleep
- eased constipation
- increased alertness and mental clarity
- reduced anxiety
- less nausea
- reduced pain
- decreased depression
- increased feelings of well-being
- being pleasantly distracted
- improved body and self-image
- restored hope
- satisfaction in participating actively in a part of the healing process
What Should I Expect During An Oncology Massage?
The first thing people notice about oncology massage is that it’s unlike any other massage therapy they have ever experienced. This is due in large part to the training these certified therapists receive.
By its very nature, oncology massage requires a knowledge of cancer that is both general and specific. Therapists complete over 150 hours of specialized certified training. Session adjustments will be made to support the comfort and safety of each individual patient.
Questions will be asked regarding:
- cancer treatment history
- tumor site or metastasis
- compromised blood cell counts
- lymph node involvement
- blood clots or blood clot risk
- medications (short and long term)
- vital organ involvement
- fragile or unstable tissue
- medical devices
- fatigue, neuropathy, or pain
- changes in sensation
- late effects of treatment
The information provided is used to make custom designed adjustments to a patient's treatment. Most of these adjustments will be nearly imperceptible during a session, but patient's are always invited to ask questions. The goal here is to support the healing process through every stage of cancer treatment.
This article is meant to provide general information about oncology massage. It should not be used in place of sound medical advice from a board certified oncologist.
The Downtown Athletic Club may not offer oncology massage, but its certified therapists will work with each patient to customize individual message regiments.