Cancer and Massage

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cancer and massage

What Is An Oncology Massage?

An Oncology massage is a specialist massage therapy for those who are living with or are recovering from Cancer. 

During this challenging time, massage has been shown to help reduce stress by inducing calmness, aiding in the relaxation of muscle tension and potentially reducing nausea, fatigue or pain.

Is it safe to have a massage when you have cancer?

It wasn’t too long ago that those who had received a cancer diagnosis were being refused massage therapy in spas and therapy rooms due to a fear that cancer could be spread by massage.

Of course, this is not the case and there are actually significant benefits to be had from massage therapy for those undergoing,or who are many years on from, cancer treatment. 

There is no reason why someone who has or has had cancer cannot enjoy the benefits of massage, but I would always advise the prior discussion with a GP or health consultant to ensure there are no concerns for that individual. 

Whilst it is safe to have a massage, there are unique factors to be considered including protocols and adjustments that must be taken into account when massaging someone who has, or has had cancer.  

To ensure the safety and comfort of the client, it is important that massage therapy in such situations is carried out by a massage therapist who has been properly trained to provide massage for people living with cancer.




What should I expect from an oncology massage with Shelagh Bryce?

My therapy room is warm, calm, peaceful and soothing. 

I talk as much or as little as my client wants. I will generally encourage my clients to try to really enjoy the peace and relaxation of their session and become aware of their body and let go of any tension with no pressure to fill a silence.

In my clinic , when I am massaging someone who currently has or has had cancer previously – safety, comfort and choice are my primary considerations.


Aside from the normal safety considerations, in the context of massaging someone living with cancer there are certain necessary protocols which need to be discussed and assessed on an individual basis. 

These considerations may include:

Site (for example if the client has an implantable port)

Position (they may be uncomfortable lying in a particular way)

Pressure (depending on individual circumstances, I adjust my pressure, areas being massaged and, also, the direction of strokes). 

Timing (depending on individual circumstances, it may be appropriate to adjust the length of time of their massage therapy)

There is always a risk of lymphedema where lymph nodes have been removed, and the protocols relating to direction of strokes away from affected areas, not causing redness, inflammation or situations where swelling could occur are all important considerations.


Comfort considerations include both physical and emotional.  

Cancer and massage | Hands holding frangipani flower

The massage I give to clients who are undergoing treatment for cancer or in the period after their cancer treatment will be soothing, gentle and relaxing – nothing that could impact adversely on the systems of the body. 

It may also trigger an emotional release and it is important that the therapist is aware of how to support and comfort their client. Confidentiality is critical and I take great care and pride in providing a comforting, confidential safe environment.


I understand that for someone undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, it can feel as though they don’t have much choice or control over what’s happening to their body.  

Life can become taken up with never ending rounds of appointments, scans, hospital treatments and drugs.

During this kind of massage, I aim to give back some choice to my clients, as I appreciate that making decisions for their own body after not being in control can be very beneficial. 

My clients have the choice of how they want to benefit their own comfort during this time of relaxation. For example, instead of simply asking if they would like another pillow or blanket, I would first let them experience it with, and then without… and then ask them to decide which they prefer. It may not sound like much but even the seemingly smallest adjustments can result in a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.


Book A Massage Therapy

I can offer individual massage therapy sessions or a course of massage therapy. Often knowing that there is a regular session of some wonderful soothing relaxation is a very positive focus for people undergoing cancer treatment.  

It can be a very welcome and special gift to offer a friend or loved one massage therapy at a challenging time in their life.

If you would like to make a gift of oncology massage therapy to someone, vouchers are available to purchase for massage therapy at either my Dullatur clinic or at Stirling Massage Clinic at Bridge of Allan Sports Club.

To find out more or to book a massage therapy, give me a call today on 07581 372925 or email



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