Tag Archives: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

MASSAGE THERAPY FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Note: The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only. Working in this field must be done within scope of practice, in conventional medical partnership, and with adequate education and training.

“The patient’s body must be touched with hands of peace, whispered to, reverently anointed, and handled as if it is a delicate flower.”Gayle McDonald, author of Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People with Cancer.

As massage therapy integrates with conventional medicine, more research is emerging on how bodywork can positively affect the course of cancer. Specialized training, awareness of the risks, protocols and modalities of massage therapy for a person with cancer is crucial for therapists before treating an oncology patient. We require written approval of the patient’s physician before starting treatment. We avoid deep tissue work until we receive a Relieves fatigue and nauseaRelieves fatigue and nausea

physician’s report that the cancer is in remission.

Benefits

Regular massage therapy during and after cancer treatment provides the following benefits:

Relieves fatigue and nausea

Improves blood circulation

Balances blood pressure

Improves sleep

Calms the mind

Reduces stress

Appropriate bodywork includes lymph drainage, trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, myotherapy and myofascial release, and energy work such as Reiki or Healing Touch.

Appropriateness

Skilled touch is beneficial at nearly every stage of the cancer experience: hospitalization, pre- and post-operative, outpatient care, during chemo and radiation, recovery at home, remission or cure, and during the end stage of life. Regardless of how severe the side effects of cancer treatment, there is always a way to increase the patient’s comfort with some type of touch therapy. It is crucial to have a qualified practitioner who has been trained in working with cancer patients.

Cautions and Contraindications

Cancer treatment places a heavy toxin load on the body, which massage can help eliminate. With a low white blood cell count, the immune system is vulnerable to external pathogens. Until immunity recovers, introduction of germs can have devastating consequences. Therefore, extreme attention to hygiene should be practiced in the treatment of cancer patients. Light pressure is always used, because low platelet count renders the patient vulnerable to bruising or internal bleeding.

Because weakness and fatigue are common during treatment, a conventional 60-minute massage session may be too long and arduous. More frequent but shorter sessions, 20 minutes or less, are a more realistic and beneficial goal.

Traditional cancer therapies can dehydrate the body, thus the typical use of IV fluids. With a shortage of fluids to flush out any toxins released by bodywork, a massage that is too intense can maximize stress on the liver and kidneys, and can trigger a toxic reaction. Again, brief, light sessions can circumvent this issue.

The theory that massage may cause metastasis is no longer considered a threat. Science now understands that cancer spreads due to genetic mutation, and not by mechanical means such as massage or exercise. However, it is still crucial to recognize there sometimes are contraindications. For example, a therapist shouldn’t work directly on a site of radiation, tumor or lymphedema, without special training. Heat application is contraindicated if the patient has high blood pressure or a heart condition concurrent with cancer.

At Pacific Massage Services, we offer a variety of services that can be combined into customized treatment plans for each client’s individual needs. We provide in-home services for patients and office appointments for family and caregivers. Special programs & pricing available.

Information and appointments: 808.885.4459 ~ pacmsg@gmail.com

Medications for Cancer

Because oncology medications are so numerous and complex, it is beyond the scope of this publication to discuss individual drugs. We research each cancer patient’s medications on a case-by-case basis for cautions and contraindications to massage therapy, and proceed with treatment only if deemed safe and appropriate, according to our research sources.

Protocols

We recommend and utilize four primary elements of protocol for cancer patients:

  1. Permission of physician
  2. Communication with patients & physicians
  3. Documentation of each treatment
  4. Compassion for patients & loved ones

Working with this population is not only challenging, but requires specialized training. Any cancer patient desiring massage should be sure to choose a therapist who is trained in the physiological, mental and emotional components of cancer illness and treatment.

Gentle massage is the most effective, well-known complementary therapy for cancer patients. Research on its efficacy indicates that massage: decreases pain, improves vitality, improves organ function and benefits emotional mood. As our understanding of the benefits of touch for cancer broadens, massage therapy for this population is increasingly in demand.

Our Principal Therapist, Donna Thomas, is trained and certified in Therapeutic & Palliative Massage for Cancer Patients, through Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, New York City, 1998. She has worked extensively with cancer patients for over 20 years.

Breast Massage Saves Lives!

Breast Massage Saves Lives!

In recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this month’s feature shares how massage can improve the quality of breast health.

Breast massage is an effective means to maintain health of the breasts. According to the Texas Institute of Functional Medicines, breast massage is the act of slowly kneading and stroking the breasts, using varying amounts of mild to moderate pressure in gentle lifting and compressive movements. It can be done as self-massage or with help from a partner or therapist. While the primary purpose is to clear the lymphatic system of toxins that can disrupt health, breast massage also has cosmetic and therapeutic uses.

Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits of breast massage:

Appearance Benefits

Massage is useful in maintaining breast shape and to prevent sagging. According to the AyurvedicCure.com, breast massage stimulates circulation, which is necessary for keeping breast tissue healthy. Massage also helps break up benign cysts, strengthens the muscle tissue of the chest, builds resiliency in the ligaments and firms the skin. With regular massage, the breasts will remain firmer for longer and less likely to sag. The result is a more attractive bust line.

Therapeutic Benefits

Breast massage is also beneficial for breast pain. Whether the pain is caused by surgery, pregnancy, milk production, mastitis, cysts, or an unknown cause, a soft, gentle massage can be therapeutic and soothing. According to the AyurvedicCure.com, “Simply rubbing an area can have a demonstrable analgesic effect.” Massage eases soreness in the tissues, reduces pain and swelling in the breasts, and relaxes tightness or tension in the ligaments. Breast massage is particularly useful in soothing the pain associated with breast scarring from infection or surgery .

Health Benefits

There are also health benefits associated with using breast massage as a dependable means of flushing out toxins from the body’s lymphatic system. Toxic buildup from poor circulation is believed to increase the risk of cancer. Stimulating drainage of the breasts’ lymphatic and blood circulation eliminates harmful waste products and allows nutrient-rich blood to flow to the breast tissue.

Prevention Benefits

As nice as it is to have a healthy, attractive bust line, there are more serious issues to consider than appearance. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there were 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,170 deaths from breast cancer in 2009, with these numbers increasing each year. Self-massage and breast massage performed by a professional are both key components in early detection of any lumps or irregularities in a woman’s breast tissue. It is important to become familiar with the shape and feel of normal breast tissue to detect any abnormalities that may develop over time. Early detection could be life-saving!

Regular breast massage, together with monthly self-exams, is a good way to check the breasts for changes or irregularities. With breast cancer being one of the most common cancers among women in the United States, it is crucial to take care of this important aspect of health.