AMTA #10445

Clare Caldwell
Massage Therapy
2864 Route 27 Suite C
Lincoln Professional Center
North Brunswick, NJ 08902


Massage and the Cancer Patient

Many people today suffer the physical and mental pain of cancer. While the person with cancer may have a condition that warrants caution on the part of the therapist, seldom is massage totally contraindicated.

Healing, according to Webster, "is to make whole." Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer have undertaken very personal healing paths in their lives.

Massage therapy brings greater body awareness and assists in visualization and relaxation. Massage can and does play a significant role in the healing process of persons living with cancer.

Before cancer patients begin massage treatments, they must discuss the goals and appropriateness to their cancer treatments with their physician. The physician must give a written prescription or approval to begin therapy if the cancer patient is currently being treated with radiation, chemotherapy or is scheduled for surgery.

Because cancer and cancer treatments may compromise the function of the patient's immune system, it is advisable to postpone the massage if the therapist is not feeling well.

Side effects of radiation therapy are usually limited to the area being treated. The skin can change to varying degrees of dryness or actual burns. Direct massage to these areas is contraindicated. Alopecia, or hair loss, may be emotionally traumatic but most cancer patients find massage to the scalp comforting.

Massage is contraindicated for two conditions: thrombocytopenia and leukopenia. These conditions can produce potential bleeding and bruising.

Post surgical massage may require special draping of sheets or may begin with light work to remote areas like hands and feet. Consult with your doctor about massage treatment, he/she may be surprisingly supportive and give you the "go for it" OK!