Breast Cancer and Spa Services

According to the American Cancer Society’s 2013-2014 Breast Cancer Fact Sheet, a woman living in the United States has a 12.3% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

At East Village Spa, our trained and licensed providers have experience working with individuals undergoing cancer treatments and research has shown that massage therapy can be helpful in combating side effects of breast cancer treatments.

  • This study showed a statistically significant reduction in nausea and vomiting related to breast cancer treatments in people who received foot reflexology treatments.
  • 2003 research from the  University of Miami has showed massage therapy to be more beneficial than progressive muscle relaxation in combating depression among people undergoing breast cancer treatments and that massage was also effective in reducing treatment related anxiety and anger.
  • Lymphatic Drainage massage can be helpful in people who experience lymphedema after surgery (it should be used as a complement to lymphedema management done by a licensed lymphedema specialist like an Occupational or Physical Therapist).

Massage can be modified to help people relax during all phases of cancer treatment and most physicians are accepting of massage provided by experienced and knowledgeable practitioners during cancer treatments.  The Mayo Clinic has even opened a spa in their hospital!

Some modifications need to be made to ensure that clients receiving spa services while receiving cancer treatments are safe and that the services are most beneficial.

  • Sidelying massage techniques (similar to those used in prenatal massage) may be necessary after surgery
  • Lighter to medium pressure may be needed as opposed to heavier pressure which could be contraindicated due to the treatments
  • Treatments with heat, like hot stone massages, are not advised for individuals undergoing treatments like radiation, which can cause inflammation and burns on the skin.
  • Facials are fine and a great way to relax and help skin feel soft and hydrated, so long as the products are gentle.  Facial peels would not be advised.
  • Your esthetician and massage therapist will avoid ports or other areas of concern like burns
  • Waxing may be contraindicated due to changes in your skin from certain cancer treatment medications.

This is a great simple article from about massage for people with breast cancer and I agree with all of their points.

Courtesy of ABMP
Courtesy of ABMP

If you are considering spa services as a way to de-stress and help reduce the negative side effects of cancer treatments, we’d love to visit with you.  We always encourage people to share any complementary services they are receiving with their medical providers and we welcome any suggestions from your physician as well.

Author: Cassie

Licensed Massage Therapist for 9 years, business owner since 2007.