Oncology Massage: What is it and how can it help?

If you’ve ever had cancer or know someone who has, then the chances are that you have heard of Oncology. It’s typically used to describe the hospital department in which you have your cancer treatments. However, it is also a type of massage (called Oncology Massage funnily enough) which is specialised to help cancer patients. It helps them to manage their symptoms and treatments.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. However, I think we can all agree that no matter which form of cancer a person suffers from, treatment options are mentally and physically demanding on the person! From hair loss, extreme fatigue and muscle ache to having surgery to remove tumours, it’s tough.

What is Oncology Massage?

Oncology massage is a type of massage which has been developed to help people suffering from cancer (in all stages). It helps them to feel good about themselves. It also helps to alleviate some of those aches and pains the person might be feeling during treatment.

Can any massage therapist deliver this type of massage?

Put simply, no. Any professional massage therapist must undergo specialised training in Oncology massage. This is to ensure that the person receiving the massage is safe. It’s not as simple as gentle massage strokes and touch. Your massage therapist must be able to understand whether the type of cancer you have is suitable for a massage. As well as understand any clinical guidance given to your oncology team in advance of the massage. Luckily, Sandra (our owner and lead massage therapist) has been fully trained in oncology massage. This means you can be sure that the care you are given at Essential Thyme is the gold standard!

What happens at your appointment?

Once you are booked in for an appointment with Essential Thyme, we will send you a consultation form. We will send this to your email address. In this consultation form, we ask about your current medical conditions and any past medical conditions you have. It is important, for your own safety and your health that you answer these questions honestly. During your appointment, we will spend time talking about your condition and your treatment goals for your massage therapy. Once we have established that massage therapy is safe for you, we can go ahead and start your massage therapy. If you would prefer to discuss this with us ahead of booking an appointment, we welcome this. You can send us an email on our contact us page and we will get in touch with you to discuss it.

What benefit will I get from Oncology Massage?

First and foremost, as much as we wish it was, oncology massage is not a cure.  However used alongside your medical treatments, oncology massage can help with your symptoms and pain. This type of massage can help you to cope with

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Aches and pains
  • Sleep

Some clients receiving this type of massage have also reported that they’ve felt boosted in their mood once receiving a massage.

Are there any side effects?

Generally speaking, no. However, a lot of our clients have reported feeling sleepy and relaxed following their massage therapy. With a condition as serious as this, we would only think that being relaxed and sleepy is more of a plus than a side effect.

You may be thirsty or lightheaded after the massage therapy. This is not just following oncology massage. It’s a general aftercare rule after massage therapy to ensure that you do not stand up too quickly. You must also give your blood pressure a chance to return to normal after being relaxed for so long. We’d also advise you to drink plenty of water following your massage too to rehydrate your body.

Why is Oncology Massage more specialised than other types of Massage Therapy?

Certain types of massage therapy are designed to work deep in the muscle tissues. Oncology massages have to be a lot gentler in nature and adaptive to you as a person and your individual needs. For example, if you are undergoing radiotherapy, your professionally trained massage therapist needs to be aware of this. This is so that they can tailor the massage to avoid the areas in which you are receiving radiotherapy.

Your massage therapist needs to be aware of the absolute contraindication of massaging any bruised areas or areas with new scars or broken skin. If you are suffering from lymphoedema (a build-up of fluid due to the lymphatic system not draining properly) then you may have swollen arms or legs. Your massage therapist should not attempt manual lymphatic drainage using massage techniques as this can be dangerous. Manual lymphatic drainage must be performed by a lymphoedema specialist to whom you generally get a referral from your oncology team.

How do I get more information on Oncology Massage at Essential Thyme?

Our principal therapist and owner Sandra Hope is fully qualified to carry out oncology massage to the highest standard and is always happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have in advance of booking your appointment. You can get in touch with Sandra on our contact us page, through Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.