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Massage Today
October, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 10

Oncology Conference Will Include Massage Therapy

By Editorial Staff

Founded in 2003, the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) is an international nonprofit organization for health professionals interested in studying complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in treating cancer.

According to its Web site, the SIO "...focus[es] on the role of oncology practice in massage and other touch therapies, acupuncture, music therapy, botanicals, meditation and other mind-body approaches, nutrition, fitness therapies and more."1

On Nov. 17-19, 2004, the SIO will hold its First Annual Integrative Conference in New York City, wherein renowned experts from all around the world will gather to "provide valuable information about research, clinical application, and benefits and problems associated with the wide range of CAM therapies now used by patients everywhere during and after cancer treatment."2

The conference, a collaboration of several entities, including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City; the Dana Farber Cancer Institute; the American Cancer Society; the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM); and others, will feature poster sessions, abstract presentations, exhibits, and panel discussions on various topics, including the science of integrative oncology; complementary therapies for physical and emotional symptoms in cancer patients; implementing complementary therapies; botanicals in the treatment of cancer; and complementary modalities for breast cancer.

Additionally, four satellite symposia will be held concurrently, following the closing remarks on the last day of the conference, including Acupuncture in Oncology Practice and Research; Developing Integrative/Complementary Medicine Programs; Music Therapy in Oncology Practice and Research; and Medical Massage in Oncology Practice and Research.

Medical Massage in Oncology Practice and Research

According to the conference Web site's description, the medical massage "symposium for massage therapists will present overviews of optimal clinical work with cancer patients and summaries of the research literature. It will also provide guidance in the conduct of medical massage research."3

Gary E. Deng, MD, PhD, is an assistant attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Integrative Medicine Service Department, and one of the symposium's presenters. His presentation, "Principles of High Quality Research," will emphasize the importance of applying rigorous scientific methodology in medical massage research. Key points of the presentation will include fundamentals of clinical research; special challenges in conducting massage research; review of findings from previous massage studies in oncology; and the future direction of massage research.4

"Massage performed by well-trained, qualified practitioners, is generally safe in cancer patients," Dr. Deng told Massage Today. "It helps relieve tension, anxiety, stress and pain."4

He also believes that continued research on the efficacy of massage for cancer patients will yield more positive results. "Definitive scientific evidence showing the beneficial effects of medical massage will help promote the acceptance of this modality by the public, the medical community and third-party payers," he said.4

Other symposium presenters will include keynote speaker Janet Kahn, LMT, PhD, research assistant professor, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry; Wendy Miner, LMT, massage therapy program director and instructor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Martha Brown Menard, CMT, PhD, author of Making Sense of Research: A Guide to Research Literacy for Complementary Practitioners; Tracy Walton, LMT, MS, Muscular Therapy Institute, Cambridge, Mass.; and Debra Curties, RMT, author of Massage Therapy and Cancer.

For more information on SIO membership or the Integrative Oncology Conference, visit


  1. Society for Integrative Oncology Web site.
  2. Registration brochure. Society for Integrative Oncology First International Conference.
  3. Society News. Satellite Symposia. Society for Integrative Oncology Web site.
  4. E-mail interview with Dr. Gary E. Deng. Aug. 31, 2004.


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