Massage Today
Massage Today dotted line
dotted line

dotted line
Share |
  Forward PDF Version  
Massage Today
June 16, 2004

Stone Massage and Cancer

By Sonia Alexandra, LMT

In 2003, massage therapy generated $4 billion, yet it has taken decades to bring us to where we are today. One contributing factor to this tremendous growth are new and innovative spa treatments.

One of the fastest growing and frequently requested modalities is stone massage. As its effectiveness has become known, this therapy has become increasingly available in spas, salons and resorts, and in a most unlikely environment: hosiptal oncology departments.

There is something wonderful about a warm, aromatic stone placed on the body. The relaxation process begins immediately, showing us that through deepest relaxation we can reconnect directly to our inner most self. The more relaxed we are, the more effective the treatment results. The application of massage in conjunction with warm stones helps dissolve stress, increase circulation and induce systematic changes on both localized and systemic levels, greatly relieving stress issues that most people experience.

The alternating use of warm and cold stones is quite beneficial since the stones effectively facilitate decongestion when directly applied to the tissue by directing blood flow to other areas of the body, and increasing metabolism and elimination. This method is also effective in the treatment of edema and can be incorporated as a remedy to aid in soothing headache, relieving muscle stiffness by stimulating the healing process -- something every cancer patient can greatly benefit from.

Stone Massage Day

Obviously, massage cannot cure cancer; however, research has shown that a variety of touch modalities, including stone therapy, positively affects some cancer treatement side-effects, including fatigue, insomnia, pain and nausea. Many of us have seen the devastating side-effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiation deplete the body's immune system and traumatize every cell. Cancer weakens one's hope and slowly separates a patient's body and soul.

Stone massage is a source of calming, soothing and nurturing. This gentle loving touch aids on every level, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The devastating side-effects of chemotherapy, radiation and drugs leave patients dependent on their weekly massage sessions to help them cope.

In many hospital oncology departments, stone massage days are warmly welcomed. An increasing number of oncology departments nationide have lifted restrictions related to massage and cancer patients; however, one should be properly trained before becoming involved in this groundbreaking area of massage. Contact the American Cancer Society for more information.

Some tips when utilizing stone massage with cancer patients:

  • Stone temperature should never exceed 115 degrees;
  • Stones size should be in the small to medium range, not to exceed 2 inches in diameter;
  • Select lubricant carefully. Usually, the skin of cancer patients is dry, brittle and extremely sensitive. A non-scented grade-A grapeseed or Aloe lubricant is probably most agreeable;
  • Pre-soak the patients feet in warm water foot bath;
  • Begin the sesstion by slowly massaging each foot with a warm, lubricated stone. This effectively begins the relaxation process.

Remember, sessions will vary per patient and doctor recommendations must be strictly followed.

The therapeutic effects of warm gentle stone massage can be invaluable, no matter what stage of cancer a person suffers from. Just to see the smile of a patient's face as we apply our hands with warm aromatic stones, can be immensely rewarding.

Since cancer will likley affect all of us at one time or another, nature's gift of stones in the hands of a skilled therapist can produce profound change on many levels. What a difference we can make.


  • MacDonald, Gayle. Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People with Cancer. 1999.


Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.
comments powered by Disqus
dotted line