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What is oncology massage?
Oncology massage is a modified massage for people with cancer. A comprehensive case history is taken to develop a safe and effective individual treatment plan – taking into consideration the type of cancer, fatigue levels, stage of treatment, lymph node involvement, white cell and platelet count, bone density, and neuropathy. Deep peace and allowing for a relaxation response is the desired outcome of the massage.

What are the benefits of massage for someone with cancer?
Massage can lessen side-effects from chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Massage provides relaxation, relief from anxiety, and pain reduction for people at all stages of the cancer journey. A sense of re-connecting to self is often described. Studies have shown benefits to include deep relaxation, reduced stress, improved sleep, eased constipation, increased alertness and mental clarity, reduced anxiety, less nausea and reduced pain, and a sense of satisfaction in participating actively in the healing process.

Isn't massage contraindicated for people with cancer?
For years as massage therapists we were trained to see cancer as a contraindication for massage. It was thought that massage could potentially spread cancer. Science now shows that this is absolutely not true. However it is important to choose a therapist with professional training in how to modify the massage and create a safe treatment plan.

What is bone marrow support sequence?
Bone marrow support sequence is a sequence of light pressure holds at various places of the body designed to improve and support bone marrow production. It is called Bone Marrow Support Sequence because the immune cells, neutrophils and natural killer cell numbers improved after treatment. It is gentle and beautifully relaxing and restorative. Bone Marrow Support Sequence is safe for anyone at any stage of cancer.

How do moments of bliss contribute to health and wellbeing?
During moments of deep peace and relaxation, a recently discovered messenger molecule, called ‘anandamide’ (arachidonyl ethanolamide) is released. Anandamide closely resembles the active ingredient in marijuana (tetrahydrocannibol or THC), but it is much more fragile and is broken down quickly, which is why Anadamide doesn’t cause a perpetual ‘high’. 

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and has been connected to increased tumour growth. It has been postulated that any interventions known to lower elevated cortisol levels may have an inhibitory effect on tumour growth. Cortisol have been shown to decrease as a result of massage.   (Menard M. The Effect of therapeutic massage on post surgical outcomes.Doctoral dissertation, University of Virginia 1995)

Massage before & after Surgery is shown to:

  • reduce anxiety
  • result in easier recovery from anesthesia
  • reduce post-surgical pain
  • improve mobility,
  • improve appearance of surgical scars
  • reduce swelling
  • improve range of motion
  • easier adaptation to implants and expanders

Massage before and after radiation or chemotherapy can lead to:

  • reduced anxiety
  • reduced post-treatment fatigue
  • improved appetite
  • improved peripheral neuropathy
  • reduced nausea

Massage when the medical treatment is finished:

  • lowers stress hormones
  • boosts the immune system
  • gives a sense of participating in your own healing

Massage as palliative care:

  • brings a moment of peace
  • reduced pain and anxiety
  • hope
  • a sense of connection

“Technical advances are important but we need to remember the difference between treating disease and treating a patient. Massage is an extension of the time-honoured principle of laying on of the hands. Massage therapy can help reduce stress, fears, and pain – all of this without side-effects. Whether the mechanism of action is physiologic or psychological matters not to me. The fact that it makes the patients feel better and allows them to better deal with their illness or treatment is good enough for me. I look forward to the day when this feature is available to all appropriate patients in our hospital.”
- Roger E Alberty MD Director, Department of Surgery, St Vincents Medical Centre, Portland , Oregon

For more information on oncology massage:

www.oncologymassagetraining.com.au
www.questforlife.com.au
www.s4om.org
www.cancercouncil.com.au