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Massage Today
March, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 03 >> Musculoskeletal Pain

Cancer and Massage: Debunking the Myths

By Janine Ray, LMT, MTI, CCMT

In recent years, there have been numerous misconceptions about indications and contraindications for massage therapy. In Texas, since the basic massage program consisted of only 300 educational hours, and because of the lack of adequate pathology training, students were taught not to massage a client who has cancer or any other condition for which there is a contraindication. If the therapist is not confident about massaging or does not know the modifications necessary for any given pathology, then this may be a suitable choice. However, because of the insufficient understanding of pathology by some massage therapists, there are entire populations of clients that could really use the benefits of massage who are not receiving the complete spectrum of care they should receive.

The Texas Association of Massage Therapists has teamed up with the MD Anderson Cancer Center's Integrated Medicine Program to present a conference April 12-13,  2008, in Houston entitled "Cancer and Massage - Debunking the Myths." The goal of this convention is to demonstrate and discuss how massage, as an integrative health care modality, can play a role in the wellness treatment of cancer patients, their family and friends. Attending this convention will offer Texas massage therapists the opportunity to study the modifications in treatment protocol necessary to serve cancer patients and their family by including massage in their wellness health care.

MD Anderson's "A Place of Wellness" has included massage therapy in its menu of wellness treatments for cancer patients, along with several other integrative health care modalities. On the cutting edge of cancer treatments and research, it is no wonder MD Anderson is one of the top cancer hospitals in the United States. The Integrated Health Care Department has offered to share its wealth of knowledge with Texas massage therapists by sponsoring and facilitating most workshops offered during the TAMT 2008 convention and exhibition, to be held on the MD Anderson campus in the Hickey Auditorium.

Dr. Cynthia Myers, PhD, will be the keynote speaker at the Saturday night banquet, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Houston - Reliant Park. Dr. Myers is the director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and assistant professor in the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. She also has been practicing massage therapy for more than 30 years. She currently provides massage therapy and relaxation training to patients and family members at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Having been the principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health-funded studies on the effects of family-administered massage therapy, her knowledge and experience will prove to be a guidepost for Texas massage therapists who want to truly use their gifts to help others.

Having stayed true to her touch roots, Dr, Myers has spoken nationally on the benefits of cancer massage, as well as helping to develop protocols for cancer massage. Dr. Myers is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association, the Society for Integrative Oncology, the American Pain Society, the International Association for the Study of Pain, the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and the American Psychosocial Oncology Society. In 1999, she completed her doctorate in psychology and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

As a practicing clinical massage therapist who has never met a person whose life has not been touched by cancer, I look forward to participating and learning much more about massage and oncology at this conference. For those of you who may be interested in attending, the proposed workshops and lectures for the convention will include:

  • Massage for the Cancer Patient and their Family
  • "Chemobrain" - Is It Real? (Pathology and Pharmacology)
  • Cancer Research and Massage Therapy
  • Cancer - Pathology, Stages and How to Recognize Various Types
  • Massage Law Changes in Texas
  • How Music Can Affect Clients and Therapists During a Massage
  • Tibetan Meditation and Tai Chi for Health

The facility has limited seating, so you should register as soon as possible if you are interested in attending. The registration for two days of the convention (which includes 12 CE hours and the banquet) is $275 for TAMT members and $375 for nonmembers. For more information, contact TAMT at or call (888) 778-9851.


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