Cancer and Massage Therapy: Essential Contraindications Part I

$37.00 members / $62.00 nonmembers     2.5 CE credits

Purchase Already purchased? Sign in to take this course »

For people with cancer and cancer histories, massage therapy can be a powerful intervention. Skilled, structured touch has the potential to reduce isolation, relieve symptoms, and help people feel cared for, whole and empowered.

Review old assumptions about cancer and massage therapy and essential contraindications for massage for common cancer presentations. Take a detailed look at current thought on when, where, why and how massage therapy is contraindicated.

Related: Cancer & Massage Therapy: Treatments Part II and Introduction to Pediatric Oncology


A well-prepared massage therapist offers caring touch to clients with cancer at important times in their lives. However, there are contraindications, considerations regarding site, pressure and joint movement, as well as other details you should explore before beginning massage therapy for clients with cancer.

 When you have completed Part 1 of this two-part series, you will be able to:

  • List three problems with the traditional, absolute contraindication to massage therapy;
  • Describe three counterarguments to the notion that increased circulation from massage therapy promotes cancer spread;
  • Describe five common massage therapy contraindications for cancer and its complications;
  • Define deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and the concern it presents to massage therapists working with oncology clients;
  • List the signs and symptoms of DVT, the risk factors and the actions to take when these are present.

About the author(s)

Tracy Walton consults to hospitals and training programs, does research, and teaches Caring for Clients with Cancer nationally. She is AMTA's 2003 Teacher of the Year. She has worked with the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School’s Osher Institute, researching the role of massage in patients with metastatic cancer.

A former academic dean and pathology instructor at the Muscular Therapy Institute in Massachusetts, Tracy has a master’s degree in biology, with concentrations in biochemistry and cellular biology. Currently she is at work on a textbook, Medical Conditions in Massage Therapy.

Course expiration

Please note that you must complete each AMTA online learning course and pass the exam one year from the date of purchase. If you do not complete the course and pass the exam within one year, you will be required to re-purchase the course.

Course approval codes

MSP #59


This course contains information that is proprietary. None of the material contained within this course may be used without the express written permission of AMTA unless otherwise indicated in the course. As a reminder, before practicing any new modalities or techniques, check with your state’s massage therapy regulatory authority to ensure they are within the state’s defined scope of practice for massage therapy.


Online courses are non-refundable. AMTA will not cover fees incurred from duplicate payments, insufficient funds, stopped payments or credit/debit cards over credit limits.

"I chose AMTA because they are committed to advancing the profession."

Jackie R., AMTA member since 2011