Although the healing benefits of massage therapy were recognized as early as the 4th century B.C. when Hippocrates sung their praises, massage therapy was virtually abandoned medicinally in the early 20th century due to the advance of modern-day medicine. The therapeutic benefits of massage, however, have received a renewed respect during the past few decades, as Medicare and certain health insurance companies have begun to cover its costs. Several resort and day spas are promoting massage and various other 'alternative' treatments as therapeutic for cancer patients.
Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa in Arizona offers a Cancer Massage with the premise that the body, heart, mind, and spirit can be healthfully pieced back together through the use of skilled, attentive touch. The treatment, endorsed by the American Cancer Society, is available to guests who have recently undergone surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy (it is not available to immuno-suppressed patients) and is customized to the needs of the individual guest.
New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, Vermont, offers spa services to help guests reclaim their bodies and reunite with their heart, mind, and soul. Ohaishaitsu, an Eastern practice that manipulates energy within the body, and Raindrop Essential Oil Massage (said to help relax and reduce inflammation), can help cancer patients by improving sleep, encouraging relaxation, and decreasing anxiety and depression.
Dr. Manoj Babu, a specialist in holistic medicine at the BodyHoliday at LeSport in St. Lucia, finds that guests previously diagnosed with cancer use "massage and other cleansing and detoxifying therapies for pain management and rehabilitation. Acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology and yoga therapy [can also] be a great benefit to tune the vibration of the body and to have a proper balance in the immune system by regulating the functioning of the endocrine glands"
Though not promoted as a cure for cancer, conscious massage and healing touch have been proven to decrease anxiety, nausea, and fatigue as well as combat anemia, soften scar tissue, and help maintain one's appetite and weight.