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Thai Massage and cancer patients
Marie Wintzer
Wakoshi (Tokyo) Japan
Forum Posts: 24
Member Since:
November 10, 2022
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December 28, 2022 - 10:58 am
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I hope everyone here and at THMA had a good Christmas time.
I had a question, and I thought I had seen a thread relating to it on this forum, but I can't seem to find it anymore. Forgive me if this is the wrong thread to post in.
What do you think about Thai Massage on cancer patients? What I have heard is that Thai Massage stimulates blood circulation, which would increase the risk of cancer cells spreading in the body, therefore one should not perform Thai Massage on people with cancer. Is this the consensus?
What about foot massage? Head massage? Hand massage? I understand the argument of the increased blood flow, but somehow I am only half convinced by it. I cannot imagine that a foot massage would not have been beneficial on some levels for my dad when he suffered from cancer. Had I known Thai Massage back then I would have wanted to try to offer some relief. I find it hard to imagine that it could have such negative effects. What do you think? 

Shama Kern
Forum Posts: 9468
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June 28, 2010
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December 28, 2022 - 9:39 pm
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I would say that this is faulty logic. If more blood circulation spreads cancer, then less blood circulation should reduce or slow it. In other words, a cancer patient should move as little as possible. That's clearly bad for anyone's health. Plus it over-simplifies the cause of the spread of cancer.

There is tons of research that points to reduced physical activity as increasing the risk of cancer, and it points to moderate exercise as decreasing the risk of cancer. To my knowledge there is no evidence that slightly increased blood circulation during a massage spreads cancer throughout the body. And let's face it, we are talking about a very slight increase in blood circulation anyway. It's not like running a 100 yard/meter dash. 

What I would suggest is this. If you don't feel sure about giving a massage to a person with cancer, ask them to sign a release form that absolves you from any responsibility, or ask them to get their doctor's permission in writing.

I have worked on cancer patients, and I know many therapists who have done the same. It obviously depends on the stage of cancer. I cannot generalize here. But I definitely don't agree with the notion that Thai Massage, along with slightly increased blood circulation, causes cancer to spread faster in general. There is just no scientific evidence for this, and not even any indication that this might be true.

Actually the opposite is true. There are many studies suggesting that massage is beneficial for cancer patients. After all, massage has many beneficial effects besides an increase in blood circulation.

Massage won't cure the cancer, but it can improve the client's frame of mind, improve their quality of life, relax them, help them to cope with symptoms, and be a part of an overall treatment protocol, even if only in a minor way. 

Again, it depends on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the type of massage, and the condition of a particular client. It also depends on the skill level and knowledge of the therapist. All this has to be taken into consideration.

Marie Wintzer
Wakoshi (Tokyo) Japan
Forum Posts: 24
Member Since:
November 10, 2022
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December 29, 2022 - 3:38 am
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Thank you Shama. This was my thought about it as well. Generalizing and saying that it should NOT be done in any case is too simplistic and probably wrong. Thank you for your precious input, I really appreciate.

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