Massage Therapy Eases Many Cancer Patients" Ills
NEW YORK SEP 28, 2004 (Reuters Health) - A relaxing session with a certified massage therapist appears to help reduce anxiety, pain, fatigue and other types of discomfort in cancer patients, new research reports. Moreover, patients still continued to feel better 2 days after the massage, the authors note.
Massage therapy is a "noninvasive, pleasant, inexpensive therapy that has the ability to reduce these very serious symptoms for at least 48 hours," study author Dr. Barrie R. Cassileth of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York told Reuters Health. She recommended that cancer patients schedule massage therapy sessions "as often as they are comfortable." Cassileth added that they should only visit a certified, licensed therapist who knows how to care for cancer patients, many of whom may need a lighter touch.
Massage therapy for breast cancer patients: a systematic review
Ann Oncol. 2011 May 4. [Epub ahead of print]
Being an Oncology Massage Therapist
Clients often ask what oncology massage is like for the therapist. The following eloquent answer is from an article titled "Companionship in Cancer Care" by Tracy Walton. (Massage Today, November, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 11, page 12)
"An oncology nurse once told me that in order to get up each morning and go to work at the bone marrow transplant unit at her hospital, a certain amount of inner preparation was needed. She needed to be able to look her patients in the eye and say, "I will walk with you" through the treatment process.
Her words have stayed with me and referred me back to that inner preparation time and time again. It’s no wonder so many nurses are drawn to massage therapy, as there seem to be several parallels in massage therapy and nursing. Touch is one of them. Alleviating suffering is another. And companionship is a third.
Gloving and Chemotherapy by Gayle MacDonald
Antitumor drugs are known for their toxicity. Less well-known is the fact that chemotherapies are, in and of themselves, cancer-causing agents. This makes massage therapists wonder if they should protect themselves when working with chemotherapy patients. Generally, antitumor drugs are eliminated through urine and feces, which poses no threat to massage therapists who are in skin-to-skin contact with a patient undertaking chemotherapy. Only two drugs are known to eliminate through the skin. One, Thiotepa, is the drug for which gloving within 24 hours is a clear necessity. This is based on nursing practice. However, therapists will rarely encounter this medication, so gloving for it becomes a moot point.
The other drug that have been suggested as a candidate for gloving, because it eliminates through the skin to some extent, is cyclophosphamide, also known as Cytoxan.3-7 Many cancer patients receive this medication. But, there is no strong evidence to mandate gloving when massaging clients on this drug. One study showed that health care workers can be exposed to a minute amount of cyclophosphamide 16-24 hours following infusion.3 Based on animal data, this would only account for an extra 1-2 cases of cancer per million workers a year,4 an insignificant risk on the whole.
A preliminary calculation of additional cancer risk to massage therapists from transdermal excretion of cyclophosphamide by chemotherapy patients.
There is rapidly increasing awareness of the benefits of massage therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy, however there are suggestions in the literature that massage therapists are placed at increased risk of cancer from chemotherapeutic agents dermally excreted by patients. In a worst-case cyclophosphamide scenario (full body massage, 18-24 hours post infusion, un-gloved. hands, no hand wash following massage, 200 massages per year) we calculate a maximum probable additional cancer risk of 2.5 extra cases per million massage therapists per year. Risk is reduced by administering fewer than 200 massages per year, administering massage within 6 hours of infusion), massaging less than 100% of the body, using gloves and washing hands post-massage.