Due to the complexity of the disease, it is paramount that our therapists are well-versed in the side effects of cancer treatment, for example, clients may be suffering from lower blood count, lymphoedema or adjusting to surgical devices post-surgery, such as catheters and stoma bags.
The benefits of Oncology Massage aren’t simply limited to relaxation and mental clarity. It has also been demonstrated that they provide relief from the physical symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment, often cited as the ‘Big Five’: pain, fatigue, nausea, depression and anxiety. Observations around the benefits massage has on the ‘Big Five’, have been validated by international research conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, who carried out a 3 year study on 1300 cancer patients. While conducting the study, patients and staff noted a 47% improvement in pain levels, 42% improvement in fatigue levels, 59% improvement in anxiety levels and a 48% improvement in levels of depression after receiving a 20 or 60 minute massage therapy session. With data suggesting that longer massage time provided longer lasting relief.
A further study by Deborah Fellowes and colleagues, focused on aromatherapy and massage for reliving symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment. In Fellowes study they were able to demonstrate that massage consistently reduced anxiety and depression. Such findings have further compounded the efficacy of Oncology Massage in relieving symptoms of cancer treatment.
The massage we teach on our Oncology Massage Course is not exclusive to Oncology, however the sensitivity to the clients’ condition, the extensive training and the transfer of specialist medical knowledge from therapist to trainee are what make Oncology Massage so unique. By providing good Oncology Massage training, therapists are able to confidently create a space that both they, and the client can relax in.
Such a careful and considered approach not only provides relief from physical symptoms, but it also creates an environment in which clients can share their feelings, feel relaxed and more positive about their own bodies. Once you start seeing a cancer patient, more often than not you will find that clients not only want massage therapy during their cancer treatment, but at all stages of the process; pre-treatment, post-treatment and during palliative care.
It is this kind of relief that makes Oncology Massage such an under-used and valuable resource to those suffering from cancer and the medical community.
BSc RGN, Dip SMRT
MSMA, MCNHC, MLCSP
Board Member GCMT
PSB Member CNHC
44 (0) 775 4941 922
 Cassileth, B.R, Vickers, A.J. Massage Therapy for Symptom Control: Outcome Study at a Major Cancer Centre. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY.  (3): p.244-9
 Fellowes, D. Barnes, K. Wilkinson SSM. Aromatherapy and massage for symptoms relief in patients with cancer.Cochrane database of Systemic review  Iss 4