The latest research, insight, and learnings in supportive cancer care.

Healing Through Movement: How Dance Can Help Someone With Cancer

Dance has a universal power. It transcends cultures, brings joy, and communicates emotions that we can’t describe with words. But can the art of movement also hold the key to physical healing for those battling cancer? Let's delve into the therapeutic world of dance and its potential to help with cancer recovery.

The Dance-Cancer Connection

At its core, dance is a form of expression that engages both the body and mind. Its movement can feel freeing and allow us to release pent up energy that’s stored away. When someone is battling cancer, there are so many emotions that are hard to put into words, and dancing it out can be that outlet, a medium to reclaim their body.

The Physical Benefits of Dancing

1. Enhanced Mobility:

Surgery or prolonged treatments can limit physical mobility. Dance therapy can help regain flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness, making daily tasks easier.

2. Lymphatic Drainage:

Certain dance movements can stimulate the lymphatic system, helping with detoxification – essential for those undergoing chemotherapy. These include big arm movements, jumping, hopping, twisting, or deep bends in the knees.

3. Boosted Stamina:

Regular dance sessions can improve cardiovascular health, building endurance and aiding in faster recovery.

The Emotional and Psychological Benefit of Dancing

1. Emotional Release:

Cancer often brings a myriad of suppressed emotions. Dance allows a safe space for expressing fear, anger, sadness, and even joy.

2. Stress Reduction:

The rhythmic motions of dance can be meditative, reducing cortisol levels and promoting relaxation.

3. Improved Self-Esteem:

Mastering dance moves can boost confidence, helping patients feel empowered and more in control.

The Social Benefits of Dancing

1. Community Building:

If you’re willing to dance with others, joining a dance therapy group can foster a sense of belonging, connecting cancer patients with those on similar journeys.

2. Enhanced Communication:

For those struggling to articulate their experiences, dance offers an alternative language, breaking barriers and facilitating deeper connections.

What’s the Science Behind Dance?

Recent studies have shown that dance therapy can positively impact cancer patients. This study revealed that dance interventions can reduce cancer-related fatigue. Another research piece highlighted its role in improving the quality of life among women with breast cancer.


While dance doesn’t replace traditional treatments, its integrative potential in the healing process is undeniable. Whether it's ballet, salsa, contemporary, or freestyle at home, each step taken is a stride towards recovery, resilience, and rejuvenation.

Know someone that should dance it out? Send this to them!


  • American Dance Therapy Association. (n.d.). What is Dance/Movement Therapy? Retrieved 11 August 2023, link
  • Karkou, V., Dudley-Swarbrick, I., Starkey, J., Parsons, A., Aithal, S., Omylinska-Thurston, J., Verkooijen, H. M., van den Boogaard, R., Dochevska, Y., Djobova, S., Zdravkov, I., Dimitrova, I., Moceviciene, A., Bonifacino, A., Asumi, A. M., Forgione, D., Ferrari, A., Grazioli, E., Cerulli, C., … Parisi, A. (2021). Dancing With Health: Quality of Life and Physical Improvements From an EU Collaborative Dance Programme With Women Following Breast Cancer Treatment. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. link
  • Koch, S. C., Riege, R. F. F., Tisborn, K., Biondo, J., Martin, L., & Beelmann, A. (2019). Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Dance on Health-Related Psychological Outcomes. A Meta-Analysis Update. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. link
  • Aithal, S., Karkou, V., Makris, S., Karaminis, T., & Powell, J. (2021). A Dance Movement Psychotherapy Intervention for the Wellbeing of Children With an Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Intervention Study. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. link
  • Vardhan, V., Goyal, C., Chaudhari, J., Jain, V., Kulkarni, C. A., & Jain, M. (2022). Effect of Dance Movement Therapy on Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy: A Pre-post Intervention Study. Cureus. link
  • Fatkulina, N., Hendrixson, V., Rauckiene-Michealsson, A., Kievisiene, J., Razbadauskas, A., & Agostinis Sobrinho, C. (2021). Dance/Movement Therapy as an Intervention in Breast Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2021, 1–6. link

Join Our Community Today

Members get the latest tips, guides, and resources to live better beyond your diagnosis, as well as access to members-only chats with Dr. Hillary Lin for personalized advice.

Thanks! You've been added to our newsletter.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


The latest research, learnings, and insight on mental health, curated by Dr. Hillary Lin.

I'd like to find out

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

I'd like to find out

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

I'd like to find out

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

I'd like to find out

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Top Articles

No items found.

Ready to Transform Your Mental Health?

Get Started Today