Cancer and Neoplasia


And I have learned that people with cancer can benefit greatly from receiving a massage. The American Caner Society advocates massage to comfort and help improve the quality of life for cancer patients, although not to specifically treat cancer. Cancer may be a reason to begin, continue, or increase the frequency of massage treatments. Because there is an enormous amount of stress involved in dealing with a life-threatening disease, massage can play a vital role in stress reduction. Cancer treatments (surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplants) are enormously taxing to the body. Some of the side effects of these treatments, such as hair loss, loss of organs or limbs, or skin changes such as redness or burning from radiation, can result in anxiety, anger, depression, and negative body image for the cancer patient. A knowledgeable, skilled massage therapist can play a major role in integrating client body, mind, and spirit; reducing muscle tension; and decreasing pain by administering client-centered treatments. Besides the benefits of relaxation, improved sleep, and pain reduction, massage also bolsters immune function, reduces or prevents edema, decreases nausea and vomiting, reduces the fatigue that affects most cancer patients, and may improve the quality and survival of skin during radiation therapy. Massage can provide a relief from the pain and discomfort of medical treatment and is a human-to-human contact that is relaxing, pleasurable, and noninvasive. In the past cancer was considered a contraindication for massage. This prevented many people living with cancer from receiving a massage. Cancer is characterized by the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells that form a neoplasm or tumor. The study of tumors is called oncology. The tumors can be either cancerous or harmless. A cancerous tumor is called malignant and will often metastasize or spread cancerous cells to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not metastasize, but may become life threatening if, as it grows, it puts pressure on vital areas, such as within the brain. Cancerous cells can spread throughout the body via one of two routes, the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. If the cancer is metastasizing through the lymphatic system, there is a predictable pathway the cancer cells can follow based on the structure of the lymphatic vessels, and the one-way flow of lymph. Lymph nodes will often be removed and checked to see if cancerous cells have migrated to them. If the cancer is spreading through the bloodstream, however, there is no predictable pathway for them to follow, and the cancer could spread anywhere. The most common type of cancers is found in the lungs, breast, colon, and prostate. Massage therapist and their clients need to be aware that some cancers are potentially preventable or curable if proper screening measures are followed. The incidence of different kinds of cancer varies greatly with age, ethnicity, gender, and geographic location. Cancer is not contagious, but it can spread internally.

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