Benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients

During my time as a massage therapist, I have seen first-hand many of the benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients.

There has been a lot of articles in the news surrounding people who have or are experiencing cancer not having the chance to benefit from massage/beauty treatments recently.

As a practising massage therapist for over 10 years, I sought qualifications via a cancer massage course to ensure I could provide massage for this people. Subsequently, I also became a trainer. Further information regarding oncology massage courses can be found in our massage training courses section and here.

The main benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients:

Evidence has suggested that there are many benefits for cancer patients receiving massage therapy and indeed many health services now offer this. Many studies have found the following benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients:

  • Improve physical and emotional confidence
  • Help people to express their emotions and deal with anger
  • Assist people in experiencing a new sense of hope and positivity
  • Help develop a greater acceptance of their emotional and physical circumstances
  • Reduce isolation and reduce fear
  • Reduce nausea
  • Restore a sense of balance and wellbeing
  • Provide a sense of calm
  • Reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort
  • Improve sleep
  • Help people feel special
  • Reduced pain

The evidence

Clinical trails have been conducted surrounding the benefits of massage in cancer. Cochrane indicate no reason why symptom relief is not possible with massage for people with cancer and indicate the need for further studies. Furthermore A 2008 systematic review suggests massage may reduce anxiety symptoms in patients with cancer and may reduce physical symptoms such as pain and nausea.

Historically, people with cancer have worried that massage could cause cancer cells to spread to other parts of their body. Research has not found any evidence of this. Trained massage therapists will take a full history to ensure avoidance of any areas affected by cancer, such as tumour sites, lymph nodes. Speak to a medical practitioner if you are at all worried.

Contraindications and massage in cancer

At Keheren therapy we work your massage days around any cancer care or any cancer treatments you maybe having. For example the Amethyst Trust recommends treatments approximately two weeks after chemotherapy. There are some absolute contraindications to massage such as DVTs/Blood clots, these are contraindications for everyone not just people with cancer. The MacMillan website explains many of the contraindications to massage and gives some very useful advice.

Lymphatic massage

Lymphatic system considerations are included in massage treatments. Although Lymphatic Massage itself is a specialist form of massage therapy to promote the natural drainage of lymph. The Complementary Natural Health Council is a good place to start a search for a therapist in your area.

Further reading/Supporting evidence on the benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients.


benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients