October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with it comes many opportunities to shed light on the realities of breast cancer, its treatment and its prevention. While massage is not typically linked to cancer treatment, it can actually have an excellent effect on breast cancer recovery, and some feel that it should be part of the treatment protocol as a result.
In a recent set of studies from the University of Minnesota and the University of Miami, massage was found to be the most effective relaxation treatment for people dealing with breast cancer when compared to a caring presence, healing touch or progressive muscle relaxation. If you or someone you love is dealing with the realities of breast cancer, here are some ways that massage may be able to help.
Using Massage to Improve Immunity and Reduce Anxiety
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is not easy. It brings significant stress and anxiety, and that anxiety can actually make it harder for patients to heal after their diagnosis. Massage can help reduce anxiety significantly, so the body can focus on healing. In fact, the University of Minnesota study found that patients who experienced massage therapy during cancer treatment were able to reduce their pain medications while also enjoying reduced anxiety. The University of Miami study found that patients receiving massage therapy had fewer problems with depression while fighting breast cancer.
Massage therapy also helps boost the number of white blood cells, crucial to fighting cancer and other diseases, in the body. Improved immunity is essential when dealing with cancer treatment. While massage cannot be used as a cancer treatment, it can support medical treatments through this important immunity boosting factor.
Considerations for Massage for Cancer Patients
Breast cancer patients can benefit significantly from massage, but you do need to keep your current health in mind when pursuing any type of treatment, including massage. To get the most benefit without undue risk, keep these considerations in mind:
- Always ask your oncologist about whether or not massage is safe for you.
- Choose a licensed massage therapist with experience working with breast cancer patients.
- Ask for modifications to make the massage comfortable and relaxing while dealing with the realities of cancer treatment.
- Communicate if the massage is uncomfortable or you need an adjustment made.
Remember, massage for breast cancer patients should be comfortable and relaxing. With the right massage therapist, you can get significant benefit as you fight cancer.