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Massage therapy and cancer

Are they compatible with each other?

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My massage students very often ask me if they can massage a patient with cancer. In this article, I'll tell you what I answer them.

Massage therapy and cancer can now coexist because not only does the massage soothe pain in a cancer patient, but it also promotes healing.

massage therapy and cancer

Therapeutic benefits of massage are not limited to anti-cellulite massagelymphatic drainagepregnancy massage therapy, etc.

It also brings total well-being and even attacks serious diseases such as cancer.

However, do not be fooled, massage alone can not overcome a cancer, even if it has been scientifically proven that its benefits affect the health of the patient.

Are massage therapy and cancer compatible?

Massage therapy is rarely contraindicated in the treatment of cancer. On the other hand, the skillful hands of a massage therapist with a perfect knowledge of the different massage techniques are frequently used.

However, cancer patients are often afraid to be massaged, either because of fear of a possible contraindication or because of perplexity about the healing results of the massage.

However, it should be noted that massage can be the most effective way to relieve pain, allowing the patient to better cope with his or her illness.

Collaboration between the physician and the massage therapist is recommended to achieve better results that are both safe for the patient and effective in the fight against the disease. Massage therapy and cancer therefore meet under the supervision of a doctor.

Importance of the medical questionnaire

Often, doctors are not massage therapy specialists and know little about the benefits of this practice on the body. It is therefore up to the therapist to make his own diagnosis before following the doctor's advice.

Once the massage is approved by the patient, the existence of a medical questionnaire on the patient's medical information, treatment, side effects and contraindications should not come as a surprise to the patient. This is an essential precaution.

The therapist's knowledge of the type of cancer, its development in the body, the affected areas and the different symptoms allow the therapist to adjust the massage sessions. Indeed, according to the stages of the disease, the touch pressure will be different in each zone; and the choice between local and regional pressure or circulatory massage of a specific area is based on the results of this questionnaire.


Massage therapy has undeniable benefits on cancer. So, it's... :

  1. enhances the effects of medications
  2. affects the patient's emotional and psychological state by reducing tension, anxiety and depression
  3. provides a feeling of relaxation and well-being and influences the healing and stabilization of the disease
  4. relieves some physical pain
  5. stimulates immune defences and helps to fight against the development of cancer cells
  6. reduces muscle tension in certain muscles whose function may be reduced following surgery
  7. reduces edema and muscle stiffness and provides better mobility
  8. restores the patient's confidence by positively influencing his mood
  9. fight against insomnia problems
  10. reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels and helps the patient feel better

Warnings about massage therapy and cancer

The idea that massage contributes to the rapid development of cancer cells has some truth if certain conditions are not met. For massage to bring only benefits on cancer treatment, it is necessary to:

  • Have a professional therapist: the type and massage techniques applied will thus be adapted to the type of cancer, the treatments already followed by the patient and especially the seriousness and evolution of the disease. Similarly, the therapist must be able to accurately locate the parts of the body to be massaged. Indeed, if a full body massage is suitable for certain types of cancer such as leukaemia, it should be avoided for other forms such as breast cancer.
  • Ask the doctor for his opinion and obtain his permission: this precaution will avoid any risk of incompatibility between treatment and massage. The therapist's action must be complementary to that of the attending physician.
  • Take into account the doctor's directions.
  • Avoid local pressure on zones where a rather superficial cancerous site is identified, i.e. felt by the hand. There are also qualified secondary sites that the therapist must know with the help of the doctor. These are also points where massage is not recommended.
  • Avoid applying pressure to enlarged nodules: they may hide viral or bacterial infections.
  • Avoid massaging a surgical area and the lower limbs. This will prevent the creation of a favourable ground for clot formation. Only the referring physician will be able to specify when a lower limb massage can be performed safely for the cancer patient.
  • Avoid massaging a patient in radiotherapy or chemotherapy in case of viral or bacterial infections.
  • Avoid any movement that could break bones as malignant bone tumors tend to weaken them.
  • Avoid using percussion or deep friction techniques using only the thumb or finger. On the other hand, you have to use all your hands and fingers.

Where to receive this massage in France?

Alternative cancer cure

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