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Shiatsu Alongside Cancer Treatments

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Can Shiatsu Help?

Colourful Ribbons, Shiatsu alongside Cancer Treatments

The following is taken from the Cancer Research UK website. Please visit their site to read the full article.


'Some people with cancer say that it helps them cope better with their cancer and its treatment because it helps control symptoms and side effects such as:

  • poor appetite

  • sleep problems

  • pain

  • low mood

After Shiatsu, they feel very relaxed and have higher energy levels.'


The following section is taken from the MacMillan website.


Is it safe to have a massage if I have cancer?


Some people worry that massage could cause cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body. Research has not found any evidence of this happening, but massage therapists will avoid any areas affected by cancer, such as tumour sites or lymph nodes. Talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse if you are worried.

If a massage therapist is not sure where on your body it is safe to massage, they might choose to massage your hands or feet instead. The massage therapist must also be properly trained and qualified to treat people with cancer. They should have some knowledge of cancer and its treatments. They can sometimes teach family members or friends how to do basic massages, so they can support you at home.

During your touch therapy, it is important to avoid massage in certain areas. This includes:

  • areas that are directly over a tumour or any lymph nodes (glands) affected by cancer

  • areas that are bruised or sensitive

  • areas being treated with radiotherapy, during treatment, and for a few weeks after it finishes.

  • the area around intravenous catheters (such as central lines) and pain relief patches

  • areas affected by blood clots, poor circulation, or varicose veins

It is also important to be particularly gentle if:

  • The cancer has spread to your bones.

  • You have a low platelet count (platelets are cells that help the blood clot).

If you usually bleed or bruise easily, or if you have cancer in your bones, speak to your cancer doctor before having massage therapy.


Shiatsu works well with other therapies to support clients after surgery, before and after giving birth, complementing psychotherapy treatments, and while a client is going through chemotherapy. It is a safe practise that works on the physical, psychological, and emotional parts of a person; each session meets the needs of the client. Regular treatments can be beneficial.


Around the world, Shiatsu is integrated into mainstream hospitals, working alongside contemporary medicines. I would like to share a few videos with you that demonstrate the use of Shiatsu within hospitals, with thanks to the Centre of Balance. In the videos, they talk about Hara Shiatsu, which is based on Zen Shiatsu. A student of Shizuto Masunaga (the founder of Zen Shiatsu), Tomas Nelissen came back to Europe from Japan and taught under the heading Hara Shiatsu.


Shiatsu and hospitals in Vienna 2010



Shiatsu in hospitals around the world 2019


Thank you to Diego Sanchez


Diego Sanchez - USA - Shiatsu for intensive care and open-heart surgery

Helga Barbier - Austria - Shiatsu for Pregnancy and Birth

Leisa Bellmore - Toronto Canada - Shiatsu in Artists Health Care Center

Mihael Mamyshchvili - Vancouver Canada - Shiatsu in cardiology department

Mike Mandl - Vienna Austria Shiatsu for rehabilitation in hospitals.

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