By: Terri Williams, Patient Educator

For those undergoing cancer treatment, the side effects of such treatment may be very unpleasant and the need for relief may be vital. A meta-analysis was published in 2015 in Integrative Cancer Therapies on the correlation between massage therapy and cancer pain, etc. It was found that massage therapy in fact did help reduce pain in cancer patients. A big find was determining that the massage therapy practices were extremely effective for those who have post-surgery pain. The “nurturing touch” has been found to do wonders for those suffering from cancer and can in return be potentially life changing for them as well. A few other small studies were conducted, one in 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Trials concluded that the stress levels and quality of life of patients with acute myelogenous [myeloid] leukemia greatly improved with the help of therapeutic massage techniques. The other study from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2013, showed that there was a possibility that therapeutic massage helped improve the pain and sleep quality of those at home with metastatic cancer. A cool new thing to learn is that oncology massage is a type of massage that was developed specifically for cancer patients because it uses gentle and careful approaches. 

An article that specifically talks about Gloria Esteves, a retired Spanish teacher, who was diagnosed with an aggressive type of uterine cancer discussed the side effects of her chemotherapy and cancer treatment included nerve damage, weakness, high grade sensitivity, numbness, extreme pain in the hands and feet—all things that occur from peripheral neuropathy. After battling cancer for a number of years and experiencing the horrific side effects of cancer treatment, Esteves decided to take a different approach and she went in to see a licensed massage therapist in hopes of alleviating her pain through oncology massage techniques. After her experience, Esteves believes that oncology massages should be promoted more for cancer patients experiencing extreme pain and other side effects. From her personal experience, Esteves stressed that she was absolutely amazed at how much relief she got from choosi
ng massage therapy as an alternative for cancer treatment. Her massage therapist Sean Chillemi definitely understands what cancer patients are experiencing because he himself is a survivor of skin cancer. His worldview changed and he began to shift careers and learn more about Eastern medicine. His desire to help others restore their health has most definitely made an impact on those who choose to come to him for oncology massage treatments. The nice thing about Chillemi’s approach is that his oncology massage doesn’t just target one symptom, it helps treat everything.

Learn more about massage therapy with cancer treatments from the American Massage Therapy Association.