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Oncology Massage FAQ
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Oncology Massage FAQ

What is oncology massage?

Oncology massage is a tailor-made, customized bodywork service designed to accommodate the unique and changing needs of someone with or with a history of cancer.

Massage and bodywork are used to safely address side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.  In many cases, massage modifications might be made regardless of how much time has passed since treatment. 

Why is it important to make sure my massage therapist has oncology training?

A properly trained therapist is able to recognize and work within a framework of clinical considerations so they can meet the unique and changing needs of a person in or with a history of cancer treatment.  The therapist should be aware of any contraindications and considerations that may apply regarding the area that is to be massaged, the allowable amount of pressure, and range of motion restrictions. 

For someone recently in treatment, Low blood cell counts, DVT (blood clot) potential, bone metastases, vital organ involvement, and medical devices must be taken into consideration.

If lymph nodes were biopsied, removed or radiated during the course of treatment, or if scarring is present that may block the flow of lymphatics, massage modifications will be made to reduce the risk of triggering or affecting lymphedema in that area of your body.

Can massage spread cancer?

No.  Cancer is spread through changes taking place in your body at a cellular level.  If massage could spread cancer, so could exercise and other daily activities your doctor generally recommends.  We will refrain from massaging directly over a tumor site for various reasons, and there are many other safeguards that may take place, but it is not for the fear of spreading cancer.

What are the benefits of oncology massage?

Clinical research indicates that massage can bring a reduction in pain, anxiety, constipation, fatigue, nausea and muscle tension and has the ability to increase serotonin and dopamine - the “feel good” chemicals in your body.  
During treatment, oncology massage may be used as a complimentary modality to combat the side effects of treatment and make the process easier both physically and emotionally.  Following treatment, massage may be used to reduce scarring and fibrosis and increase range of motion.  Years following treatment, an oncology massage may feel like most other massages.  Massage techniques are used to relieve muscle tension and promote general relaxation and well-being, while subtle modifications are being made for your safety.