Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person's health and well-being. Massage can include a variety of types of pressure and touch. When used as a complementary and alternative treatment in breast cancer patients, massage therapy has been associated with enhanced health and coping with treatment-related side effects.

How Does it Work?

Research demonstrates that massage therapy can increase dopamine and serotonin levels resulting in an elevation of mood, and less depression, anger, anxiety, and stress. Natural killer cells and lymphocytes have also been found to increase with massage therapy, which suggest positive changes to the body’s immune system.

Our Scientific Understanding

Studies have shown that massage seems to offer both physical and emotional benefits for women with breast cancer. Research studies have demonstrated increased levels of dopamine following massage therapy, which increases the sense of well-being. In addition, increased levels of natural killer cells have been found, suggesting it may help boost the immune system. There is no evidence that massage can cause an existing cancer to spread.

What symptoms can it help with?

  • Nausea/vomiting caused by chemotherapy
  • Bone/joint pain caused by chemotherapy or Aromatase-Inhibitors
  • Stress-related anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia
  • Improved immune function

Important Things to Consider Before Trying mMassageTherapy

Massage can be very helpful, but it is not for everyone. Keep these things in mind:

  • Deep massage, or any type of massage that involves strong pressure, should NOT be used if you are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. People undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation may have a decrease in red and white blood cells, so with deep massage, there is a risk of bruising. Light massage can be used instead.
  • If you're currently undergoing radiation, your massage therapist should avoid touching any sensitive skin in the treatment area.
  • If you have had lymph nodes removed, the massage therapist should only use very light touch on your affected arm and the area around the underarm.
  • If you have arm lymphedema, your arm and underarm area should be treated by a different kind of massage especially for lymphedema, called manual lymphatic drainage. Look for a physical therapist trained and certified in manual lymph drainage to treat your lymphedema.

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