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What is Cancer Massage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Cancer massage, also known as oncology massage, is a special style of massage which is customized for cancer patients. It may be performed by a massage therapist who has received training in cancer massage, or by a nurse or another medical practitioner. Some people feel that massage can be very beneficial for cancer patients when it is performed properly, and cancer massage is often on offer at facilities which specialize in cancer treatment.

Touch has long been acknowledged as beneficial, and cancer patients often benefit from conscious touch, because they sometimes feel extremely isolated by their illness. Massage can also help to reduce stress, muscle pain, and tension, making cancer patients happier and promoting a healthier immune system. In some cases, cancer massage can also more directly benefit patients, by stimulating healthy circulation, for example.

There are some special concerns involved when working with cancer patients. For example, cancer massage must avoid stimulation of the lymphatic system, because otherwise the cancer could spread. It is also important to work carefully with the limbs, as cancer patients are prone to edema, a buildup of fluid in the extremities. Many cancer patients also have very sensitive skin, which can make even the lightest touch very difficult to bear.

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Several things characterize a cancer massage. The first is a very light touch; the massage therapist may barely touch the skin, for example, and typically a great deal of lotion or oil is used to lubricate the skin during the massage. The massage therapist also works slowly, frequently checking in with the patient to make sure that he or she is comfortable. Gentle massage on the head, hands, and feet is commonly included, with the therapist taking care to avoid tender areas on the body, such as the sites of recent surgeries. Some therapists also include energy work in cancer massage, working with the energy fields which some people believe surround the body to clear blocked energy and promote healthy healing.

Cancer massage can be performed at the home of the patient, in a hospital, or in a massage studio. Patients are generally encouraged to undress to whatever level is comfortable before lying on the massage table, which is typically covered in a table warmer and a soft pad to make the experience more comfortable. The client will be draped in a sheet for the session, and soft music may be played to make the environment more relaxing. Therapist and client may choose to talk together during the session, or they may remain silent.

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