The Positive Effects of Massage Therapy on Cancer Patients and Survivors

By Melanie Bowen

Who doesn’t love getting a massage? It’s no secret that while there are many health benefits associated with massage, bottom line they simply feel amazing. The fact that massage is so relaxing and feels great is often the only reason that people need to book an appointment; however, massages can have numerous health perks that are something to keep in mind.

People who are battling cancer or who have recently combated cancer often need to turn to treatments that will help them heal. Everything from medication to exercise and massage therapy can help them throughout their recovery. While massage feels satisfying for people who are in good health and physically fit, it can be even more rewarding for people who’s bodies have been under a mass amount of stress or in pain.

There are so many benefits to massage therapy for cancer patients. It can reduce stress and anxiety and help patients unwind. It can boost the immune system, helping harmful toxins leave the body. Massage therapy can also help patients with any kind of cancer, from breast cancer, mesothelioma, or even individuals with poor blood circulation. Massage has potential to restore energy, reduce pain and minimize the negative effects of chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

People who experience more specific and severe issues can find relief through massage as well. Massage therapy is used to treat the following conditions:

•           Muscle and joint pain and stiffness
•           Problems with mobility
•           Injured muscles
•           Headaches
•           Backaches

Even better than the physical benefits are the emotional and psychological benefits. When patients receive a massage, they become more aware of their bodies and how they’re feeling. They can focus on the areas that need healing and direct their attention to these parts of their body. Massage therapy is also a holistic approach to relieving depression, which is an issue that many people who have dealt with cancer face. Massage can release endorphins, which in turn promote a good mood.

It’s important to understand that holistic remedies alone will not treat or cure cancer. However, massage therapy can be used in conjunction with traditional treatments to help alleviate the many side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. While massage therapy is not a cure for cancer, it can greatly benefit cancer patients and promote well-being.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your serenity and give your mind, body and spirit a vacation from some of life’s trials and tribulations through massage therapy!

Do you have someone in your life that is dealing with a chronic condition?  Please let us know if and how you think massage would benefit them.

Special thanks to Melanie for this wonderful submission!

24 thoughts on “The Positive Effects of Massage Therapy on Cancer Patients and Survivors”

  1. One of my best friends has 3 collapsed discs in her spine and has to take pain medications every day because it hurts so bad. I think I can help her pain with massage, but she would need it often, probably once a week. I know I can’t cure her spine, but I can definitely help with the pain by giving her massages. I love that I can make a difference hollisticly!

  2. Someone close has chronic migraine headaches. She has gone to multiple medical specialist throughout the years but has yet to explore any more holistic approach. Though I’m not sure what causes the headaches, she has some pretty substantial shoulder and neck tension that I can’t imagine helping her condition. I believe she could only benefit from massage, as well as considering other alternative therapies.

  3. My roommate and I both have long term conditions that are incurable. We have realized throughout our daily busy lives how important massage is even after we are finished with school especially. It has been difficult with our very conflicting schedules to squeeze a massage in every now and again and not just problem area work. We both hope to make massage and some very specific modalities a part of our holistic treatment plan.

  4. My grandmother has Lung Cancer and due to all the radiation and chemo. She has alot of achy and sore joints and Tons of neuropathy in hands and feet. When i am able to massage her hands and feet she says it relieves alot of the pain. So i know it is beneficial to do massage on cancer patients and there pains.

  5. My mother is diabetic but she also has had stints put in her legs. She loves to be massaged so I would like some input as to how I should massage her due to both of these conditions. Thanks!

  6. I don’t know anyone with cancer but I do work with a girl with chronic low back pain! After I massage her she sleeps well at night and wakes up feeling great! I get very happy when I help her out cause I know she will have a good day afterwards.

  7. I wish that i would have started doing this a year ago. My aunt died of cancer and I feel that if I knew then what I know now I might have been able to help her a lot. I think it would of helped her to reduce some of the pain and depression that she might have been feeling.

  8. A friend of mine in England has lung cancer and I have suggested to him to get massages to help reduce stress and make him feel better. I also suggested to him to get Reiki treatments to help him heal. I love massage and many of the modalities you can incorporate in massage. It is very healing and relaxing and I think it is necessary to incorporate in one’s life style of healthy living.

  9. Cancer is not an easy thing to deal with, and that is why massage can be so invigorating. Just the touching part is already a plus. This a very fragile moment in somebody’s life and they need all the tenderness and attention possible.

  10. Seeing someone go through cancer first hand is hard to do especially if it is someone you love. My mom is a four time survivor of cancer.I am glad she made it through. It took a lot of prayers, medicines, radiation, and chemotherapy for her to go through it. Look back massage could have helped her too through emotional times and body aches and pains from all the bed rest she had to do.

  11. My grandmother died of cancer…I believe massage therapy could have helped her with anxiety and relaxation. She died in the 70’s so I’m sure no one had ever considered this form of healing or helping others.

  12. I would have to say the person that is close in my life that suffers from my chronic pain would be my wife. She suffers from chronic headaches sometimes so severe she needs to stay in a dark room and sleep most of the day, and it effects me not as much as it does her but I wish there was something more I can do. This is where massage comes into play, everything I have learned in massage therapy I practiced on my wife and they have all helped in some way. Especially when we learned how to massage the sub occipital.

  13. When my husband was 19 he cracked two vertebra in his lower back, the doctors told him he would not grow to be very tall if he didn’t go to the chiropractor consistently. Well he did not have the insurance to do that, so when we got together I gave him massages every other day and, I feel like because of me he is now 5’11” he was shorter than me when we got together and now he towers over me it seems. I like knowing that because of my hands he not only stands taller but he has great posture, and has less pain.

  14. My aunt has cancer and my uncle has a brain tumor. Their doctor tells them that they can not have a deep tissue massage, but a gentle stroke is good. So when I massage them, they like the light touch, but can not handle you to stay in one place for very long. I get nervous massaging people with cancer, but I make it a priority to get good at it, so they are good guinea pigs. lol…sore subject for me.

  15. i personally have depression and have noticed a decrease in my “bad moods” since i have started class and received massages almost every night. i still get bad days every now and then, but thats because depression is a battle you have to fight with for a long time before you can finally get past it. I’ve been depressed for almost 10 years now, but finally im getting to point in my life that im able to cope with it and work past it day by day. I was on medication for it at one point but it caused my BP to drop really low and i would faint every time i stood up. I defiantly see massage as a good alternative to medication for my situation.

  16. I think that for cancer patients anything that can help most are willing to try. I wish they would find a cure for cancer but in the mean time I agree that massage can really help with the pain and anxiety. I have lower back pain and have noticed massage help reduce the pain. I also work at a stressful job and usually come to class overwhelmed and stressed but after lab I feel much more relaxed and have been able to sleep a little better as well.

  17. Other than myself, who has chronic back pain, my husbands brother has a degenerative disk disease. He is in constant pain from it even with his medication. I think he would be a good candidate for massage. The doctors have told him that surgery would be pointless because he has 4 disks together that would need to be fused but the doctors will only fuse 2 disks in one spot. The massage is obviously not going to fix his problem but it could definately ease his pain and help him relax.

  18. I have many relatives that have suffered from cancer. I wish I known the benefits of massage so I could have at the least made them feel better while they were suffering.

  19. This was an amazing article. I printed off and giving to my kids grandpa he is fighting cancer now.
    Thank you

  20. I have a friend who is about to undergo a biopsy. She is currently not in any physical pain. I think it’s an excellent reason to get a massage!

  21. Stress is a proven cause of disease in the body from a western medical and holistic point of view. Massage is a proven to reduce stress so it only makes sense that massage could play a vital role in the body’s ability to heal from any disease including cancer. Articles like this one help bring awareness to the benefits of my future profession!!!

  22. I really liked it when you said that people who experience the most severe issues in their bodies, like problems with mobility and injured muscles, can find relief through massage therapies. If so, then I will surely ask my mom to give this a try. She is not ill, but she is frequently suffering from muscle pain so much that it is affecting her job. I hope that through a massage therapy, she will find the relief that she needs to return to work. Thanks.