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Massage During Radiation Therapy  

Can I get a massage during external radiation therapy?

Yes, but you need to discuss any plans for massage therapy ahead of time with your radiation oncologist. Also, be sure that you are working with a massage therapist who is experienced in working with cancer patients and who understands what type of massage therapy is appropriate for a patient undergoing external radiation therapy. For example, oils and other massage lubricants should never be used on patients receiving radiation treatment.

Because almost all patients undergoing external radiation therapy experience an increased tenderness in their skin during the first few weeks of the therapy, you may or may not be able to tolerate very light touch with slow movements. As the external radiation therapy continues, your skin will become even more tender to the touch. At this point, hands-on-massage should be replaced with energy techniques like Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, or Polarity Therapy. When the skin heals, usually several weeks following the end of the external radiation therapy, you may resume light massage therapy.

Furthermore, breast cancer patients who have suffered from lymphedema should never have deep tissue massage performed under the arm or other affected area. Numerous cases have been reported where lymphedema returned, following a session of vigorous massage.

If appropriate types of massage are used, however, massage can be one of the most beneficial alternative therapies that breast cancer patients can add to their treatment regimen.


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