Diagnosing and treating cancer unfortunately comes with its own set of pains. Physical and psychological suffering is a tragedy experienced daily by the majority of people with cancer. Even if there are no miracle cures to relieve this suffering, studies suggest that certain relaxation techniques such as massage therapy, integrated into treatment protocols, can improve the quality of life of patients. Massage therapy is integrated into several cancer treatment centers around the world.
The development of cancer has catastrophic consequences on the human body. On the one hand, the presence of a cancerous mass in a given organ alters its functional capacities and consequently disturbs the general balance of the organism. For example, a tumor that develops in the colon causes the obstruction of the digestive system and prevents the absorption of essential nutrients from food. But in addition to compromising the general functioning of the body, a growing tumor mass can also cause great pain if it affects areas rich in nerve endings. This pain is particularly present in the advanced stages of the disease where the cancer has succeeded in invading several regions of the body in the form of metastases. The resulting suffering, combined with a state of great weakness, is devastating both from the point of view of the patient and their loved ones, because it is associated with a dramatic loss of quality of life.
So, in addition to being an extremely difficult disease to treat, and this, despite the significant improvement in cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery), the suffering caused by cancer also poses a serious therapeutic problem, both physically and than the psychological. Relieving this suffering therefore often requires a multidisciplinary approach, based on reducing physical pain as well as improving patient morale.
Massage decreases anxiety and promotes sleep
Several studies have looked at the impact of massage therapy on the quality of life of people with cancer. The detailed analysis of all these studies shows that massage therapy is associated with a significant improvement in the well-being of patients in the short term, as evidenced by a better ability to relax, a reduction in anxiety and improved sleep quality.
In some cases, for example in women with breast cancer, one study suggests that massage may even reduce the pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments. Accompanying persons can also benefit from the benefits of massage therapy: for example, regular massage sessions of children under 14 treated with chemotherapy and their parents show that massage therapy is capable of reducing anxiety, as much that of children than parents. Overall, massage therapy can therefore be considered a simple and non-invasive way to improve the mood and state of mind of cancer patients and thus contribute to their well-being.
Myers CD et al. The value of massage therapy in cancer care. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 22: 649-660
Billhult A. et al. Massage relieves nausea in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. J Altern. Complement. Med. 13:53-57.