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Healing Touch and Cancer

The use of complementary or alternative therapies in cancer is increasing and doctors and nurses are now starting to seek more information on these therapies and to recommend them to cancer patients as a way of increasing quality of life during cancer treatments.

One study suggests that “the appropriate integration of complementary modalities into oncology care has the potential to enhance the impact of conventional care by putting the patient in the best condition [in order] to use their [own] innate healing resources.”

When alternative therapies like Healing Touch are used for cancer, this is in a field known as Integrative Oncology - this term means that alternative or complementary therapies, like healing touch, are used alongside and in addition to other more conventional forms of treatment such as chemotherapy. These complementary therapies are included in treatment plans, not to help cure the cancer or to increase survival rates necessarily, but in order to help patients cope with the symptoms they’re experiencing (from the cancer itself and from the cancer treatments they are having.)

As we know, healing touch can increase relaxation, help in pain management, decrease anxiety and depression, decrease fatigue and increase overall well-being in a person. In addition to these effects, it has been reported to also have benefits in helping increase immune response in cancer patients. One study showed that the immune cells appeared to be less affected by treatments, which were often toxic to them, when the patient received healing touch therapy. This can only help in fighting the cancer cells and brings us to a place where we start to rely on and utilize our body’s own healing powers, and not just clinical or medical healing.

Pain and Fatigue are the symptoms that cause the most interference and distress in cancer patients, being the ones that seem to have the biggest affect on the day to day lives of patients. Studies show that healing touch can have huge beneficial effects on the level of fatigue reported by cancer patients and also show increased pain management with the consequence of having to take less pain medication during treatment.

Healing touch and other complementary therapies should continue to be used as an integrative and important part of cancer treatment. Used properly, and in combination with other medical treatments, healing touch therapy has the potential to keep the patient’s frame of mind and general well-being elevated. This places the patient in a position to maintain increased immunity, help fight off the cancer cells and reduce debilitating chemotherapy symptoms.

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