- Question from Tweeti: Does massage contribute to the spread of breast cancer cells to the lymph nodes?
Unfortunately, it is a common myth that massage therapy, by increasing overall circulation, could contribute to the metastasis or spread of cancer. This myth has finally been questioned, thought through, and overturned in the literature in the last ten years or so.
It has been overturned for two reasons. The first is that it's not clear that massage therapy has a very significant circulatory effect. Instead, its effect may be more mediated by neuroendocrine and other responses. Secondly, and most compelling reason the myth has been overturned, is that people in cancer treatment are rarely restricted from exercise unless there is some medical risk of bone fracture, etc.
Exercise and hot showers would confer the same, if not greater, risks than massage therapy if it were true that circulation is the only thing causing metastasis. But in fact, metastasis is a very complex process. One person in one of my classes summarized the argument against that old myth in just two words—Lance Armstrong. In fact, exercise is encouraged where possible for people with cancer for its health-promoting effects, and it much profoundly more circulatory than any hour-long session of massage therapy.
On Wednesday, March 16, 2005, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Acupuncture and Touch Therapies. Mary-Ellen Scheckenbach, M.Ac., Tracy Walton, L.M.T., M.S., and moderator Beth Baughman Dupree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answered your questions about acupuncture and touch therapies.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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