The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

Many health care professionals now recognize massage as a complementary therapy. While massage cannot reverse nor slow the spread of cancer, even the American Cancer Society recognizes its short-term benefits. In addition to obvious muscle relaxation, patients might experience decreased stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even pain relief. Any of these factors may lead to an increased feeling of wellbeing.

A 2008 study by the society showed that over 61% of cancer patients used alternative methods, like massage therapy, to improve mood , decrease pain, and increase quality of life. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, decreased edema and inflammation, increased release of endorphins, and better lymphatic and blood circulation are some benefits of massage as well.

Various regional cancer centers and hospitals offer massage as part of their combined approach to dealing with the effects of the disease. This can ease suffering not just from the cancer symptoms, but helps in dealing with the effects of rigorous medical treatments.

Massage as a medicine is not a new concept. Ancient Eastern and Arabian cultures used it and Chinese records from 2700 BC even recommended massage as treatment for conditions like chills, paralysis, and fever. Even Hippocrates recognized its uses in Western medicine, especially for war and sports injuries.

While patients with bone cancer should avoid massage because of deep pressure or potential bone injury, those recovering from serious cancers like mesothelioma might benefit from massage. Licensed therapists who know about the cancer and treatment plan should only give massage.

What type of massage works best for cancer patients? One study involved 1290 participants who received Swedish, foot, or light touch massage. Patients reported 50% less severity in their symptoms and light touch and Swedish massage rated most favorably.

A good therapist can adapt the massage to the needs of each client, especially since some cancer treatments like radiation can create increased sensitivity to pressure or even light touch.

Consult your doctor and find a massage therapy that will work best for you and your treatment and give your mind, body and spirit a vacation from some of life’s everyday stressors!

Go indulge yourself in a massage today!

Melanie Bowen joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. She also assists in social media outreach in her efforts to spread awareness.  Her blog can be read at

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.