July 2015 CST Support for Cancer Patients
This article explains some current thinking about how craniosacral therapy (CST) can support patients with cancer and provides some examples of where it is being used and some of the outcomes that may result.
Craniosacral Therapy is recognised as being helpful for supporting patients with cancer. It is currently offered as a complementary therapy to patients at the Fountain Centre (located in the St Luke's Cancer Unit at Surrey County Hospital in Guildford) and The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre, situated in the grounds of Crawley Hospital, West Sussex. Individually, craniosacral therapists such as myself, support clients with stress related conditions, mental illness, physical pain, emotional problems and also clients who have cancer and who are affected by their medical treatments.
The major cancer charities offer simple information about craniosacral therapy on their websites. For example, Cancer Active offers advice to people looking for complementary therapies: "Craniosacral Therapy has no contraindications for people suffering from primary breast cancer" (2015). The Haven organisation who run Breast Cancer Support Centres state "Most of our visitors found that craniosacral therapy helped them with physical aches and pains as well as emotional pain. During treatment for breast cancer it is deeply relaxing and can help to relieve side effects through its gentle relaxing balancing action in the body. It is so gentle, it is suitable for people who are fragile and who have acute pain (2015). Similarly, the Cancer Research UK website refers to craniosacral therapy when it details how osteopathy may help, noting "patients say it helps relieve pain and tension and that it helps them relax, helping them with their overall health and wellbeing" (2015).
Clare Dolby, herself a craniosacral therapist, explained in the professional journal for practitioners, how the therapy helped her as she was diagnosed with late stage ovarian sarcoma in Autumn 2013. She received a number of sessions before surgery and after surgery more sessions.
"In every session I received I became more and more aware of how healing occurs in even the most dire and difficult circumstances. I actually never revisited the surgery or pain in any way. I simply felt how I was ready to move on to whatever my next step was to be".
(The Fulcrum Issue 64, 2015)
A small research project was undertaken at a hospital in Thailand at a clinic for breast and oesophagus cancer patients where CST was offered to patients with chronic conditions and complex pathologies. Afterwards the leading consultant concluded that CST had a potential role to play as a complementary therapy supporting patients following conventional medical treatments (The Fulcrum Issue 61, 2013).
Nicola Brough has also explained how CST can support patients with breast cancer (presentation to doctors at Warwick Medical School 2015). Her systematic review of literature relating to the cliniclal benefits of craniosacral therapy showed that changes were identified in the three aspects of mind, body and spirit. A case-study summary of a patient who received two sessions of CST while undertaking treatment for breast cancer showed that craniosacral therapy helped the patient feel calm, relaxed and balanced, it reduced her anxiety and helped her do independent tasks and led to stomach settling with no diarrhoea since.
This individual case supports the view of the Fountain Centre in Guildford which offers therapies including craniosacral therapy to complement the medical treatment offered to cancer patients at the main Royal Surrey Hospital. Their website (2015) states that such therapies have been shown "to counteract the side effects caused by chemotherapy drugs and surgical anaesthesia such as nausea" . Complementary therapies have been shown "to reduce nausea, may also help with pain, reduce stress and anxiety, promote overall wellbeing and stimulate the circulatory, immune and other systems in the body ".
For more information or to book an appointment please contact
Louise Toone RCST BCST
Registered Craniosacral Therapist
Telephone 02392 413278
Treatments in Rowlands Castle, Hampshire and at Hamblin Hall, Bosham, West Sussex
Craniosacral Therapy is not intended as primary healthcare but to complement treatment offered by your doctor