Massage Therapy’s Many Benefits for Breast Cancer Patients

Massage therapy can have tremendous benefits for people generally, for example, in dealing with stress (see last week’s entry). But massage’s therapeutic benefits extend to specific groups of people as well. This week I want to focus on how massage therapy can help improve the symptoms and general condition of women with breast cancer.

Recent research highlighted last year by clearly outlined massage therapy’s many benefits for women suffering from breast cancer. In the study cited by the article, 34 women with stage one or stage two breast cancer were provided with either massage therapy (consisting of 30-minute massages three times per week over a five-week period) or standard (no massage) treatment.

Urine and blood samples were taken from each of the women before the study took place and after it had finished. Tests run on these samples showed dramatic results. The urine tests showed increased levels of serotonin and dopamine in the group that had received massage therapy; the blood tests, meanwhile, showed increased levels of cells that kill cancer and boost the immune system, again, in the group of women who had received massage therapy.

Questionnaires taken by the women in both groups showed that the benefits of massage therapy weren’t limited to the lab. Women who had received massage therapy reported reduced levels of anxiety, depression, anger and hostility as well.

This, coupled with another article also published on the MassageMag Web site earlier last year – which showed that breast cancer patients who have undergone surgery commonly experience persistent postsurgical pain – makes massage therapy a great medical option for breast cancer patients looking to deal with the disease’s symptoms. We’ve blogged about the proven abilities of massage therapy to help deal with pain, and the AMTA fact sheet for 2009 also cited several groups (the general public, hospitals, etc.) who use massage therapy for effective pain management.

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