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Side effects of cancer treatment and how spas can help

How can spa therapies and products help to address the side effects of cancer treatment on the skin, body and general wellbeing?

One in two people are estimated to get cancer in their lifetimes, and in the face of a cancer diagnosis skincare and spa treatments can seem a bit superfluous. They are not going to make much difference to cancer treatment itself after all.

However, the spa and wellbeing industry has been increasingly evolving its knowledge and approach to cancer for the past 15 years helping to provide holistic support to nurture people through their cancer journey and improve quality of life throughout.

One way in which dedicated spa therapies and products can do that is by helping to address the side effects of cancer treatment on the skin, body and general wellbeing.

Side effects of cancer treatment on the skin

Depending on the type of cancer you have and the type of cancer treatment that follows, the skin often suffers side effects. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are amongst the most common cancer treatments and they all have their own side effects. Scarring is the key side effect from surgery, and helping skin to heal is part of the recovery process.

Chemotherapy impact on the skin

While everyone reacts to chemotherapy differently, and there are different types of chemo, around 40% of cancer patients experience the following:

  • Dryness
  • Soreness
  • Sensitivity (especially to the sun and skincare products)
  • Angry, flaky skin
  • Patchy or slightly discoloured skin
  • Fragile nails
  • Breakouts on the scalp

Radiotherapy impact on the skin

The most common side effects from radiotherapy focus on the skin in the area being treated. These side effects present a bit like a sunburn, including:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Soreness

Unlike sunburn, skin usually reacts to radiation gradually, starting during the second or third week of treatment, and sometimes only appearing in patches.

Read about spa and beauty products when you have cancer|Find out more

Side effects of a cancer diagnosis on physical and mental wellbeing

In addition to the side effects that cancer can have on the skin, a diagnosis and treatment can have other effects as well. It's understandable that a cancer diagnosis can cause a range of emotional reactions, including anxiety and depression. Cancer treatment can also cause extreme fatigue, nausea, general pain, sleep problems and more.

Read how touch therapies benefit cancer patients’ mental wellbeing|Find out more

How can spas support wellbeing during cancer treatment

While lots of the side effects of cancer treatment are addressed by medical experts (infection risks for example), skincare and wider wellbeing support are often left to the individual.

While spas can't 'fix' wellness issues associated with cancer treatment, they can help ease them and nurture the individual. For example, there is data to show that dedicated oncology massage can help improve mental wellbeing and reduce pain perception in cancer patients.

Meanwhile, there are dedicated skincare brands that work with spas as well as on a consumer level. They are gentle so as not to cause reactions in sensitive skin and targeted so as to address the specific side effects of cancer treatment.

Spas that offer dedicated oncology touch therapies and use dedicated skincare products signpost their offering and at we highlight spa experiences that offer the most beneficial and meaningful wellness experiences for anyone on their cancer journey, via our Safe Hands with Cancer dedicated collection.

skin cancer prevention
How I benefited from massage for cancer patients|Find out more

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