The Soothing Touch: How Specialized Massage Supports Cancer Patients

Rewritten from a Fred Hutch Cancer Center Article 

For Joanne Farmer, years of battling melanoma left her cancer-free but burdened with chronic stiffness and discomfort from multiple surgeries. Finding no solace in traditional medicine, Farmer turned to alternative therapies, including massage.

“I was hesitant at first because of what I’d heard about massage and cancer,” said Farmer, 49. “But I felt my body needed it.”

Over time, massage not only lifted Farmer’s spirits but also alleviated her physical pains. “I feel calmer,” she said. “I can sleep better. My stiffness and phantom pains are gone. And remarkably, so is my scar tissue.”

Massage is increasingly sought after by cancer patients for its potential healing effects, from easing pain to reducing fatigue. This growing recognition has led to its acceptance in mainstream medical settings.

Dr. Benjamin O. Anderson, chair of the Breast Health Global Initiative at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explained that the fear surrounding massage and cancer has diminished. “We now know it can help with the scarring process and we actually encourage massage when adhesions start to form,” he said.

Adhesions, Anderson noted, can develop as the body heals after surgery, causing skin and muscle to adhere together. “Massage can break up those adhesions and help maintain mobility,” he added.

Another technique gaining popularity is manual lymphatic drainage, which helps stimulate lymph flow and drainage in cases of abnormal fluid buildup. Dr. Julie Gralow, a medical oncology professor at the University of Washington, highlighted its efficacy in managing post-surgery edema, a common complication in breast and ovarian cancer.

Jacqueline Bosco, a licensed massage practitioner specializing in cancer patients, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the relief massage can provide for lymphedema-related physical restrictions. “The release of fluids can increase mobility and function for patients and make them feel much better,” she said.

Despite its benefits, massage remains underexplored in mainstream medical literature. Small studies suggest its potential in alleviating pain and anxiety in children undergoing cancer treatments and managing fatigue and nausea in adults receiving chemotherapy.

A 2013 study in Applied Nursing Research found that massages reduced anxiety during and after chemotherapy, as well as alleviated fatigue. Similarly, research in the Jornal de Pediatria suggested that massage could decrease pain intensity in hospitalized children with cancer.

While promising, larger studies are needed to confirm these findings. Dr. Gralow expressed a desire for more substantial evidence on the benefits of massage therapy, emphasizing the positive impact it can have on relaxation and rejuvenation for certain patients.

Until then, doctors rely on anecdotal reports to inform their recommendations. As Dr. Gralow concluded, “For a subset of patients, massage can provide relaxation and rejuvenation, offering a positive effect on their well-being.”

Contact Our Mobile Lymphatic Drainage Massage Clinic | The Villages, Florida

Book-your-massage-appointment What is the Best Massage for Athletes? Tampa

In Home or In Office Massages by Jacqueline in the Central Florida area. Certified for many different massages and treatments. Specializing in Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) post surgery recovery massage.

To schedule an appointment with Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Advanced Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist, Jacqueline Bosco CMLDT, please call (813) 298-5603.   We believe nothing is more important than human touch.

Providing massage services to patients in The Villages, Florida, Lady Lake, Fruitland Park, Leesburg, Tavares, Mount Dora, Wildwood, Bushnell, and surrounding areas.

Spread the love