Lung Cancer & Massage Therapy

A diagnosis of lung cancer can cause abundant stress and anxiety for the patient, not to mention her family and friends. Massage therapy can help create a state of calm and well-being so that the patient is better prepared to fight the cancer, both psychologically and physically. In addition, there are some specific massage techniques that can help deal with the side effects of cancer treatment.

First, Talk to Your Doctor

If you have any type of cancer, consult your doctor or oncologist before visiting a massage therapist. Massage can do a great deal to decrease the stress and anxiety that comes with a cancer diagnosis, but a medical professional should sign off on any treatment plan.


Massage therapy can help benefit your general comfort level, either before or after standard treatments for lung cancer. The therapist will work to create a deep state of relaxation with long, fluid strokes, and may use aromatherapy and other techniques to reduce your overall stress level. Tell your therapist about your condition and any side effects associated with radiation, chemotherapy or medications. He should be able to adapt the massage to meet your specific needs or refer you to someone who works specifically with cancer patients.

Shiatsu and Eastern Massage

Seek out a therapist who specializes in shiatsu and other Eastern modalities that manipulate the body’s organs through a series of energy pathways and pressure points. Therapists trained in the ancient Japanese practice of shiatsu focus on restoring energy and vitality to the affected area. The “lung” pathway is located on the hand, arm, and underneath the clavicle. A therapist trained in shiatsu will stimulate this area in an attempt to restore balance, and some patients say that the practice helps them cope not only with stress but also with nausea, pain and other symptoms.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Cancer treatments can affect the lymphatic system. To stop the spread of the disease, doctors may remove lymph nodes, which can in turn create problems with proper fluid drainage in the body. Lymphatic drainage seeks to recreate the normal working of the lymph system through strategically placed movements. This type of massage is particularly beneficial if a limb is swollen due to improper lymph-system function. A small number of massage therapists specialize in medical lymphatic massage; ask your doctor or a trusted therapist for a recommendation.

Other Massage Styles

Your doctor or oncologist may prohibit a lung-cancer patient from receiving certain types of massage because of your treatment regimen. However, reflexology is usually allowed, as it focuses only on the foot, and can relax the full body and affect the flow of energy to the lungs and other organs. Polarity therapy uses a very light touch and seeks to balance the body’s energy pathways. Both types of massage may be permissible if your physician prohibits other, more vigorous, styles.

A diagnosis of lung cancer can cause abundant stress and anxiety for the patient