Breast Cancer: How Massage Aids RecoveryBreast Cancer: How Massage Aids Recovery

“Massage therapy has great potential to aid in the rehabilitation of the patient who has undergone treatment for breast cancer. We actually underutilize massage, and the early institution of that therapy might actually prevent some of the more long-term complications, such as retraction of the skin and lymphedema.”
-Oncologist Frank Senecal, M.D.

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Meziere discusses the Touch Research Institute’s research of women with breast cancer who received regular massage and the benefits they experienced during this study. Those benefits include decreased anxiety, depression and anger, and an increase in natural killer cells and lymphocytes, states Meziere. Other results from some of Meziere’s clients have been a decrease in swelling and muscle tightness, an increase in range of motion, and a decrease in pain and tingling. Meziere quotes to Paul Reilly, a naturopath at the Cancer Treatment Center in Seattle, Washington as saying, “Massage therapy can contribute positively to the psychoimmunological relationship. Massage therapy decreases stress and anxiety, helping people to feel better and that can have a positive affect on the immune system.” Meziere addresses pre- and post-operative conditions of breast-cancer patients and details the body areas that massage can help to “open and relax” after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Meziere comments on manual lymph drainage, decongestive techniques, and light effleurage to decrease lymphedema. She describes the areas that might become tight while patients receive radiation or chemotherapy and how these can be loosened and soothed through massage. Meziere encourages therapists to obtain a written agreement to perform breast massage on their clients, and she points out precautions on the legality of breast massage. Meziere stresses open communication with the patient’s physician as being “vital.” She describes a detailed breast-massage technique with a focus on scar-tissue massage for post-operative patients.

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