Is it possible for cancer to spread to other areas of the body after a massage?"

There is no credible evidence that massage spreads cancer. In fact, many cancer patients find massage helpful, improving their overall psychological wellbeing and relieving some symptoms related to treatment. The spread of cancer (metastasis) is a complex biological process involving gene expression, mutation and biochemical messengers. 

Massage is considered a “complementary therapy” – a type of treatment that is used to support the overall wellbeing of a patient undergoing conventional treatments. A large study of nearly 1300 patients found that massage helped reduce symptoms of cancer treatment such as pain, fatigue, nausea, depression and anxiety by approximately 50 per cent. Importantly, formal training in this specialised area provides the massage therapist with awareness and expertise to modify and adjust a conventional massage for someone with a history or diagnosis of cancer, while being mindful of any contraindications for massage. Adjustments will be made depending on previous or current treatment, medication and tumour sites. This ensures provision of a safe and effective treatment. 

Deep tissue massage may be contraindicated, as it can be physically and psychologically challenging to someone undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer Council recommends that cancer patients discuss any complementary therapies with their doctor before commencing.