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Touching Cancer Patients
Guidelines for Massage Therapists

Touching Cancer Patients: Guidelines for Massage Therapists

This article provides the reader with guidelines for massage therapists who wish to aid cancer patients. Williams writes that cancer is defined by “site, stage, type and grade.” Understanding the client’s type and stage of cancer is essential information for the therapist wanting to help the cancer patient. The concern has been that massage might exacerbate metastatic cancer. In fact, the author points out that no studies exist that conclude massage is contraindicated. Some oncologists suggest relaxation massage. However, the cancer site should be avoided. Deep tissue techniques should not be used. Other limitations are discussed as well. Williams discusses “the cancer process,” the four stages of treatment: “diagnosis/pre-treatment, treatment, post-treatment/survivorship and advanced disease/relapse,” and what to expect of a client’s physical and emotional condition in each stage. The article concludes with a discussion of the “stages of pain,” and how the therapist can provide the client with relief from stress, emotional release and a time of relaxation, as well as relief from physical symptoms such as edema and nausea.

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