Given that the statistics suggest that one in two of us will get cancer at some point in our lives, we will undoubtedly see patients who have been or are being treated for cancer. Massage therapy is beneficial in many ways, but the ill-informed therapist can also easily make their patients’ lives worse by triggering lymphoedema. This article gives you a brief overview of the lymphatic system, a thorough look at how it can be affected by cancer treatment and the adaptations that you need to make to your practice so that you can safely treat patients who have or at risk of developing lymphoedema. This article has been extracted from the authors’ book Oncology Massage: An integrative approach to cancer care, which is a must-read for anyone involved with people with or who have had cancer treatment. Login or register a free account below to access the contents, key points and discussion questions that accompany the article.
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Janet Penny RMT has extensive experience working with people living with cancer in both her private practice and at an integrative cancer centre. Janet has developed a treatment approach that addresses the multi-faceted needs of oncology massage clients. Her approach focuses on pre- and post-surgical treatments, scar tissue, radiation fibrosis, neuropathy and pain within the complex context of the client’s emotions that pervade and influence the body. Janet is forever amazed at the resiliency of the human body and all it goes through.
Rebecca L. Sturgeon LMT, CMLDT started her career as a massage therapist in 2008 and began working with oncology patients in 2010. She has worked in clinical and community environments providing massage and manual lymphatic drainage. She has been a massage therapy educator for the majority of her career and currently teaches oncology massage continuing education as part of the faculty for Healwell, an American-based organisation which works towards the meaningful integration of massage therapy into healthcare through multiple educational offerings and interdisciplinary collaboration in a clinical setting.
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