An Oncology Massage Professional on Risk of Lymphedema

As an oncology massage therapist who is a member of the new Society Four Oncology Massage, it is important to get the word out concerning safe massage for patients. Please visit my web-site,a free education site for patients concerning this topic.

One of the main problems that I encounter is the lack of education for patients that have surgery, with nodes removed, they are not educated concerning the risks and preventions concerning lymphedema.

The surgeons office give minimal information; no needles or blood pressure or heavy lifting in the affected limb. Many times they tell them, "it's just one node, you have nothing to worry about." Every piece of literature concerning lymphedema states that no one knows why someone with 14 nodes removed never gets lymphedema and someone with just one node removed does get it.

It is a lifetime risk and patients are not informed about the risks of deep massage, saunas, airplane travel, acupuncture in affected limb, hot stone treatment on the back, repetitive exercise, and hot tubs, spa treatments and other complementary modalities that might be contrindicated.

As a massage therapist in an outpatient cancer center, I do find many of these patients and catch them up on the risks and precautions of lymphedema. Who is getting lost in the shuffle are the patients that only need surgery, have just the sentinel node removed, and never are seen for education again.

Breast cancer web-site are doing a good job of education, but what about surgery for melanoma with node dissection or gyn surgeries. I recently found a woman with 32 nodes removed due to cervical cancer and she was hearing what she needed to know about prevention for lymphedema during radiation treatment, months after their surgery.

Another patient thought it was perfectly fine to have acupuncture on the leg that had many nodes removed for ovarian cancer.

I guess my question would be: Why are patients not being educated adequately about the risks of lymphedema when nodes are removed?


Antoinette Muirhead, LMT, CLM Instructor 954-434-7563 cell-954-309-4802

Click to enlarge
A Caring Touch for Cancer

LINK to site of massage therapist and discussions on massage benefits

Approved Provider of Continuing Education by the Florida Board of Massage Therapy.

Remember we are NOT Doctors and have NO medical training.

This site is like an Encyclopedia - there are many pages, many links on many topics.

Support our work with any size DONATION - see left side of any page - for how to donate. You can help raise awareness of CAM.