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Massage therapy is a type of complementary therapy that uses techniques of rubbing, pressing, and manipulating soft tissues of the body. Massage therapy can help reduce pain, discomfort, tension and stress. Patients as well as family caregivers may benefit from massage and have improved quality of life during cancer.
Massage involves the manipulation of the body's soft tissues through a variety of methods. It is usually performed with varying rate, rhythm, direction, and intensity. Massage may use other techniques such as aromatherapy or heat therapy.
Massage therapists usually specialize in one or more types of methods. There are many massage techniques. Some common types include:
Potential benefits of massage during cancer include:
When massage is provided as a complementary therapy, children may feel more empowered to cope with cancer. Caregivers may also benefit from having massage therapy.
Parents can also be taught how to provide certain types of massage to children. This may have additional benefits. Massage may help deepen the connection between parent and child and help families be more active in managing symptoms.
Massage therapy is generally safe if it is used appropriately by a trained professional. Licensed massage therapists have received formal education and meet requirements for state credentials. Some massage therapists have additional training and certification and may specialize in oncology massage.
Massage techniques may need to be adapted to meet the needs of cancer patients. Therapists should avoid using hard pressure and avoid the area directly over a tumor or treatment site. Special care is needed for patients who have:
Risks of massage include:
Before trying massage therapy, families should:
Reviewed: June 2018