Massage and Cancer

Macmillan have shared statistics that indicate that by 2030, 1 in 2 people will experience cancer. It touches everyone’s lives, whether personally or through a loved one. Massage therapy can potentially be very positive for people living with cancer, yet there are barriers to people receiving massage therapy. Have you experienced this for yourself?



There is abundant evidence that massage can help with symptom relief, from the symptoms of cancer itself, or from treatments, or from cancer remission. Here are some of the symptoms that massage can help with:

· Anxiety

· Pain

· Tiredness

· Disturbed sleep

· Feelings of sadness


A study of 1,290 patients showed that these surveyed symptoms improved by over 40% after massage. This is huge! Anxiety improved by 52%. Massage can make such a difference to quality of life.


It is generally advised that if you are living with cancer, you avoid deep tissue massage and instead have a gentler treatment. If you suffer from lymphoedema, any swollen areas should be avoided. You may need to see a specialist who can perform manual lymphatic drainage. Deep heat may also be unsafe.


As with all complementary therapies, a thorough consultation should take place to ensure the treatment is safe and suitable for you. There may need to be adaptations to the massage, such as finding a supportive position with cushions, avoiding certain areas, help with dressing / undressing and so on. It is important to find a therapist who you trust and can relax with.


It is sometimes thought that massage should be avoided because it could cause cancer cells to spread around the body. There is no evidence to suggest that this is true. The belief comes from the idea that as massage stimulates the circulatory system, and the closely linked lymphatic system, that this could potentially spread cancer cells. However, the lymphatic system has no central ‘pump’ like the heart, and is reliant on everyday movements such as breathing, exercise, and daily routines like putting on face cream. Medical research shows that cancer spread is caused by complex biological and chemical processes and is not related to physical movement at all.


I am a certified Cancer Touch Therapist. Touch Therapy is a type of gentle massage that is suitable for everyone – you do not need a doctor’s consent at any time of your cancer journey. The treatments allow you to relax into a parasympathetic state, whereby the mind is disconnected from daily stress and anxiety. It gives a boost to immunity and relieves tight muscles by gently soothing nerves. To find out more or book a treatment, please click here. It is not just for people living with cancer, everyone can benefit.


Do you have experiences of massage therapy and cancer? Share below!


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