What is an Oncology Massage?
An Oncology Massage is a client-specific, customized massage session, designed to meet the changing and unique needs of someone in treatment for cancer or with a history of cancer treatment. A massage plan is set, and generally revolves around the side effects of both short and long term chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
An oncology massage can only be done by a massage therapist who has received training in cancer and cancer treatment. The training revolves mainly on cancer and less on massage.
When you receive an Oncology Massage, you are getting traditional, and established massage therapy techniques, that have been adapted to your unique health situation. The changes that may be made to a massage that make it an Oncology Massage, fall under any number of categories, but typically are related to the length of the massage session, the amount of pressure, the position of the patient, and the areas of specific concerns. The concerns for example: mediports, bone metastases, or skin reactions to treatment.
Is an Oncology Massage safe for patients?
The plain answer is yes. Prior to knowing your specific situation, a trained massage therapist, one who has received the appropriate oncology massage training, can provide a safe and effective massage for any person, at any stage of his or her cancer journey, whether that be during and/or after treatment, in remission, cured or at the end of their life.
Understanding what is involved in an Oncology Massage, is understanding how we define what a basic “massage” is. Some people think of a massage as a solely painful process, with which to alleviate pain; believing that it has to hurt to be effective, that discomfort is a necessity in order to heal. Some believe that it can only be done after an injury or surgery.
While during a normal massage, some discomfort may be felt, the overall aim of a massage isn’t to cause pain. In fact, a flat definition of a massage is the manipulation of tissues, by rubbing, kneading, and/or tapping with the hand or instrument, for relaxation or for therapeutic purposes.
When an Oncology Massage is spoken about in the massage community, it can mean anything from a normal massage, involving all of the client’s body to a very light, simple touch, which is intended to help a person reconnect with his or her body, to promote healing.
By clarifying the definition, and purpose of the Oncology Massage, we can safely say that it is safe for you/your patient.
Oncology Massage training, addresses the full spectrum of cancer related issues, such as: the physical consequences of cancer, the side effects of various treatments, and the psycho-social and emotional considerations of the patient. Which gives the massage therapist a better understanding of you/your patients needs, and giving them the ability to adapt and cater specific techniques to better serve.
What are the benefits of an Oncology Massage?
Patients and their caregivers have reported many positive changes following a massage, from general relaxation to pain reduction, but there are many general benefits beyond these.
General benefits include: deep relaxation, reduced stress, improved sleep, eased and/or decreased constipation, increased alertness, mental clarity, reduced anxiety, less nausea, and reduced pain.
The benefits following surgery are: reduced anxiety in advance of surgery, easier recovery from anesthesia, reduced post surgical pain, improved mobility, improved appearance of surgical scars, reduced swelling, improved range of motion, and easier adaptation to implants and expanders.
The benefits following chemotherapy and radiation are: reduced anxiety in advance of and during treatment, reduced post treatment fatigue, improved appetite, improved peripheral neuropathy.
The emotional benefits are: decreased anxiety, decreased depression, increased feelings of well being, being pleasantly distracted, improved body self image, restored hope, and satisfaction in the overall healing process.
Potential benefits include: vital organ support, immune support, detoxification, psychological support, decreased edema and lymphedema, improved sleep, stimulates faster wound healing, relief from touch deprivation, increases circulation, increases range of motion, stimulates the nervous system, and encourages deeper respiration.
Seeing a positive list of benefits that can only aid a patient going through a very difficult time, can only persuade those on the fence to get an Oncology Massage.
Can I get an Oncology Massage if I am going through Chemotherapy?
The simple answer is yes. Please note, patients undergoing chemotherapy may have a decrease in red and white blood cells, so with a deep tissue/strong pressure massage, there is a risk of bruising. An Oncology Massage utilizes a more gentler touch. This is why it is of vital importance to explain in detail with your therapist, exactly what treatments you are going through.