Cancer and Massage Therapy: Treatments Part II

$45.00 members / $75.00 nonmembers     3.0 CE credits

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The effects of cancer treatment are often more powerfully felt than the effects of cancer itself, but massage can be a powerful intervention and support. Skilled touch may help relieve symptoms and side effects as people navigate some of the strongest treatment in conventional medicine.

Explore the effects of the principal cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy) and the massage therapy contraindications for each.

Related: Cancer & Massage Therapy: Essential Contraindications Part I and Introduction to Pediatric Oncology


Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are discussed in some detail, along with essential contraindications for some common scenarios. When you complete this course you will be able to:

  • List four complications or side effects of surgery.
  • Describe how surgery increases risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
  • List three areas of the body where lymph node removal or irradiation produces risk of lymphedema.
  • Describe how the “Quadrant Principle” modifies massage therapy for risk of lymphedema.
  • List five questions to ask a client who is in radiation therapy.
  • List three massage contraindications to follow concerning the radiation field.
  • Describe the effects on the body when the three blood cell types are suppressed by chemotherapy, and a massage contraindication in each case.
  • List three massage adjustments for someone with nausea. 
  • Describe two massage contraindications for peripheral neuropathy.


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.

About the author(s)

Tracy Walton consults to hospitals and training programs, does research, and teaches “Caring for Clients with Cancer” nationally. She is the AMTA 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. She holds an abiding reverence for the heart, soul, and science of bodywork. Tracy maintains a bibliography of oncology massage research at

Course approval codes

MSP #60

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.


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