Wellness pleasure: Cancer patients should be careful

Wellness for cancer patients: enjoy with caution

A relaxing massage with essential oils or a pleasant mud pack: wellness oases with various offers are particularly popular in the cold and dark season. Many cancer patients would also like to treat themselves, but are unsure whether this is good for them. Health experts explain the pros and cons.

Relax in the wellness oasis

When it rains or snows outside and the wind blows cold, many people treat themselves to pleasant wellness offers. Be it a heat therapy with red light, a mango pack, a thermal bath or a massage with essential oils - the body feels relaxed and comfortably warm afterwards. Many cancer patients also want this comfort, but are often unsure whether this is advisable in their situation. The cancer information service of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) explains the pros and cons in a message.

Diffuse fears

The reason for the concerns of many cancer patients is the diffuse fear that heat of any kind could cause the tumor to break out again or accelerate.

Another thesis: tumor cells could spread through massaging, pressing or kneading in the body.

“There is currently no reliable evidence of either. However, we generally recommend talking to the doctor treating you beforehand, ”said Dr. Susanne Weg-Remers, head of the cancer information service at the DKFZ.

Circulation can be weakened

Hot baths, saunas or massages can change the blood circulation and thus affect the metabolism. Given the special situation of cancer patients, it is therefore advisable to be careful.

Because during and often even after stressful treatment, the circulation can be weakened.

Then the body may not be able to handle too much heat. Incidentally, this also applies to the hot water bottle and the hot bath at home.

Advice from experts

The DKFZ lists what needs to be considered:

  • Many cancer therapies temporarily make the skin more sensitive, and soaking in warm water for too long can soften it. To what extent mineral salts, essential oils, mud mud and other packs or peels and massages can be used, the treating doctor should decide.
  • After surgery in particular, stress on the skin should be avoided before wound healing is complete in the affected region. Caution should also be exercised during radiation therapy.
  • Mechanical manipulations and massages on a suspected or already diagnosed tumor should be avoided.
  • If lymph nodes have been removed or irradiated, or if a tumor obstructs the lymph channels, heat or improper manipulation increase the risk of lymphedema.
  • When using essential oils, the allergy risk must be taken into account. They can irritate the skin or the respiratory tract if they are too concentrated.
  • Swimming pools and wellness facilities are frequented by many people, so the bacterial load is correspondingly high. The body's defenses can be impaired due to therapy and thus overwhelmed.

Individual decision

What one person tolerates well can have negative consequences for another: One breast cancer patient can easily go to the sauna, while the other develops lymphedema in the arm.

If one patient has no skin problems despite radiation or chemotherapy, the other may show strong skin reactions after a mango pack. Consequences of therapy that have already healed can reappear.

Therefore, the following applies: When deciding for or against all types of heat applications, massages and wellness at home, the individual situation of the patient is always decisive. The contact person for an assessment is the treating doctor. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Exercises for cancer patients (January 2022).