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Can Massage Help Cancer Syptoms?

Guest Author: Melanie L. Bowen

Alleviate Cancer Symptoms and Boost Quality of Life through Massage Therapy

No matter what way you spin it, being diagnosed with any form of cancer is an alarming and typically uneasy feeling. According to recent studies, the leading cause of death for Americans aged 35 to 64 is cancer. Moreover, it is estimated by the National Cancer Institute over 1.5 million new cases of cancer such as breast, colon, prostate and mesothelioma will be diagnosed in 2012 alone. Although treatment options vary according to the type and location of cancer, all patients undergo a challenging road filled with harsh treatments and long recovery periods.

While there are many treatment options designed to increase quality of life and mental wellbeing, very few feature the effectiveness as massage therapy. In fact, a study published in the April 2007 issue of “Current Oncology” found cancer patients who engaged in massage therapy sessions experience benefits such as reduced symptoms, improved psychological wellbeing and an overall increase in quality of life.

Massage therapy is used as a means of muscular and mental relaxation. Although health insurance providers, even with a physician’s prescription, do typically not cover this form of therapy the benefits are real. The following are several studies outlining certified benefits of massage therapy on cancer patients:

Improved Immune System
A study published in the July 2004 issue of the “Journal of Psychosomatic Research” found that breast cancer patients who engaged in massage therapy sessions three times per week had an increase in dopamine, serotonin and immune system functions. This study also showcased a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and anger.

Pain Reduction
Published in the 1993 issue of “Cancer Nursing” found that massage therapy significantly reduced pain by 60 percent, reducing anxiety by 24 percent and increasing relaxation by 58 percent. In addition to the aforementioned, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate showcased a significant decrease.

Symptom Reduction
A study published in the September 2004 issue of the “Journal of Pain and Symptom Management” strived to identify the true symptom reduction of massage therapy on cancer patients. This study was handed by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and it consisted of 1,290 cancer patients. All patients underwent massage therapy sessions for three years. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that cancer symptoms were reduced by 50 percent. Moreover, the study showed symptom improvement lasted for up to 48-hours after the session. Therefore, this study provides strong evidence that massage therapy has literal benefits for cancer patients.

Although massage therapy has been utilized as a form of holistic healing and health maintenance for years, its true benefit is just starting to surface. While other treatment options such as chemotherapy is essential to remove cancer, initial studies prove massage therapy to be an effective means of regaining peace, relaxation and control.

So what are you waiting for? If there is potential benefit in massage therapy why not treat your mind, body and spirit to a vacation from some of life’s everyday stressors? Get out there, consult your doctor about what treatment will work best for you and get a massage!

Author Melanie L. Bowen joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. She also assists in social media outreach in her efforts to spread awareness.