What is Oncology Massage?
Oncology massage is very similar to regular massage, but it modifies of standard massage therapy techniques to safely work around the complications of cancer and cancer treatment.
It is designed for people who are currently undergoing cancer treatment or who have ever received.
Cancer and its many treatments cause the body to be more fragile in certain ways and standard massage techniques are not always appropriate.
Additionally, the side effects of medications, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy require special adaptations.
What are Appropriate Techniques?
Standard massage techniques may be too much pressure, involve too much stretching, or may move too much fluid in the body affecting medication or chemotherapy levels.
Oncology Massage is not a specific technique in and of itself. Instead, it is the therapist’s knowledge of massage techniques and of cancer and cancer treatment that are combined in a unique way for each individual depending on their needs.
The same person could receive different massages based on how far along they are in their cancer treatment. What is appropriate can vary over time based on what is currently going on in that patient’s treatment or recovery.
For example, if a person has just had surgery or has undergone radiation, the areas of the body involved would be avoided. Lymphatic massage, however, would be a great idea to help the body to remove wastes from damaged tissue and bring nutrients to those sites.
Later on, this same person may undergo chemo. The surgical site is now closed and the radiation area is no longer inflamed. At this point, scar tissue remodeling may be done on the surgical site, the radiation site will be only touched with gentle care, and lymphatic massage will be avoided because it will flush the chemo from the system too quickly. (Physicians will often give recommendations of how long after chemo one should wait prior to receiving lymphatic massage. This often depends on the type of chemo administered.)
How is a Client Assessed
for Oncology Massage?
Assessment to determine the appropriate Oncology Massage techniques include the following items:
- Lymph Node Involvement
- Vital Organ Involvement
- Tissue Integrity / Presence of Scar Tissue
- Cancer Treatment History
- Presence or Risk of Lymphedema
- Alterations in Sensation / Neuropathy
- Tumor Site or Evidence of Metastasis
- Blood Cell Counts
- Blood clots or blood clot risk
- Medical Devices (Ports, etc.)
- Evidence of Axillary Web Syndrome