Skip to content

The Different Types of Oncology Massage

By Amy Tyler

The word massage brings up differing ideas for many people. With an abundance of techniques on offer how do you know what is right for you, especially if you have had extensive medical intervention such as treatment for cancer? Oncology massage isn’t necessarily a technique, but more an adaptation of techniques so they are appropriate for the changes that have occurred once treatment for cancer has taken place.

During treatment:

In the cancer treatment phase, the focus of oncology massage is on relaxation and allowing a place of calm where the body can heal. The body is already undergoing extensive medical intervention, so the last thing it needs is a vigorous massage where it requires a few days to heal post the massage itself.  Gone are the days where feeling sore after your massage is something to gloat about. If you are currently in the treatment phase for cancer, then restorative, relaxing, therapeutic massage is more beneficial. At this point in time think about the benefits that oncology massage can bring such as reducing pain, anxiety, depression, nausea and fatigue (Cassileth & Vickers 2004). Easing bowel issues associated with chemotherapy, pain medication or immobility is probably not what you think of when dreaming about a massage, yet is one of the greatest benefits patients talk about.

For rehabilitation:

Post cancer treatment, when you enter the rehabilitation phase, massage should be more about improving range of motion, allowing scar tissue to integrate nicely into the fascial network, improve sleep patterns and energy levels and helping you achieve a better quality of life by reducing the lingering side effects of your treatment.  This may also include things such as oncology sports massage where patients who are running marathons, dragon boat racing or getting back into shape can have appropriate pre game, post game and conditioning massage whilst still taking into consideration any long term changes that occurred to the body due to their cancer treatment, such as bone density loss, lymph node removal and scar tissue formation.

In palliation:

Palliative massage is taking it back a step to relax the body and improve quality of life. A more tranquil massage helps calm the nervous system, easing pain, allowing for more restful sleep and peaceful being. This takes into account the many medications a patient might be on helping to improve comfort at this time. Fragile skin, easy bruising, pain and restlessness are easily dealt with by the skilled hands of a therapist trained in oncology massage.

Lets be honest…..all massage is essentially about quality of life!  So no matter where you are on the roller coast ride post a cancer diagnosis, oncology massage is a suitable treatment that is easily adapted to best suit your needs and requirements. And as those needs and requirements change, your therapist will just keep adapting.

More about the author

The Different Types of Oncology Massage
Amy Tyler

Amy Tyler is a remedial massage therapist who specialises in working with people who have had a cancer diagnosis. She creates connection for the mind and body through integrating Oncology, Scar and Lymphoedema Massage to bring completely new levels of freedom and confidence to a patients life. With 20+ years experience and training she has become known in the industry for her unique skill set and has trained many other therapists to specialise in oncology massage. She runs her private clinic in Waitara in the north of Sydney and was awarded the ATMS Natural Medicine Awards Practitioner of the Year 2020.