The Benefits of Massage for Cancer Therapies

By Pacific College - January 23, 2015

Massage for cancer therapies aid patients in improving their emotional well-being and lessens some of the symptoms associated with cancer, reducing the side effects of invasive cancer treatments. Consisting of kneading, pressing, tapping or stroking the body’s soft tissues, massage therapy aids in relaxing patients both mentally and physically.

There are many types of massage, including Swedish message, which is an all body massage, Shiatsu, which is a hands-on therapy originating from Japan, aromatherapy massage, which uses essential oils, and reflexology in which pressure is applied to points on the feet and hands in order to improve the health of various parts of the body. Aromatherapy massage is one of the gentler forms available. Thought to work on the nerve endings‚ aromatherapy is believed to facilitate the release of endorphins, which often act as natural pain relievers. Swedish massage, on the other hand, is a more vigorous form of therapy. Aiming to improve blood circulation and enhance the workings of the lymphatic system, Swedish massage relaxes the muscles and eases the tightly knotted tissues that lead to pain and stiffness.

Research and Efficacy of Massage for Cancer Patients

Many studies have been undertaken regarding the benefits of massage for cancer patients and they all report similar findings. A study into aromatherapy massage for cancer therapies conducted in the United Kingdom in 2007 found that this form of massage led to a reduction in feelings of anxiety and depression in cancer patients. The results of a Swedish study, published in 2007, argued that massage therapy helped patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment to feel more positive, relaxed, and distracted from the overwhelming fear that so easily accompanies a disease like cancer. The findings of these studies support those of an earlier study conducted in America in 2004. This American study also found that massage therapy reduced the experience of the symptoms of pain, anxiety, depression, sickness, and fatigue in patients. In this study, Swedish massage in particular proved more effective at relieving the symptoms of cancer, and cancer treatment, than reflexology.

In 2004 the Cochrane Collaboration systematically reviewed a range of studies, which had looked into the benefits of massage and aromatherapy for relieving the symptoms experienced by cancer patients. After drawing together the results of numerous studies, the Cochrane Collaboration researchers came to the conclusion that massage therapy did aid patients in enhancing their emotional well-being.

Patients with cancer are able to feel better about themselves through massage therapy. It helps to relieve the stress and anxiety that many patients feel while living with the illness. Not only able to lessen the everyday pain and headaches, massage can greatly improve a patient’s quality of sleep and enhance their mood, elements that are necessary for anyone’s quality of life.

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