Brown Bag Chat: Integrating Complementary Therapy Into Your Cancer Care

Live OncoLink Brown Bag Chat
Wednesday January 26, 2011
12:30-1:30 PM EST

Ask the OncoLink experts your questions about complementary therapies that are available to you during your cancer treatment. A transcript will be available after the event in case you miss it.


  •  Kimberly Fleisher, RMT, M.S.Ed, Reiki Practitioner and Teacher at The Reiki School
  •  Fern Nibauer-Cohen, Associate Director of Strategic Marketing Services at Penn Medicine. In addition, Fern is certified by the Integral Yoga Institute in Virginia in teaching yoga to people with cancer.
  •  Jun Mao, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at Penn Medicine. Dr. Mao uses acupuncture and herbal therapies in his practice with cancer survivors.
  •  Karen Wagner, MS, RD, LDN, Dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center.


Our lymphedema expert, Andrea Branas, MSE, MPT, CLT, asked us to clarify some information about massage after lymph node dissection and in the setting of lymphedema:

Massage itself is not indicated to treat lymphedema. Deep tissue massage in the quadrant where someone had an AND (axillary node dissection) can increase their risk for lymphedema. In addition, there are massage therapists who do “Lymphatic drainage” and there are some who do “Complete Decongestive Therapy/CDT”. The problem with lymphatic drainage is that the therapists are typically only taught how to treat an intact lymphatic system. People who have lymphedema secondary to cancer treatments do not have intact lymphatic systems. If the massage therapist does not know how to handle the damaged lymphatic system, they can cause more harm than good. Massage therapists who have CDT training are great, there just aren’t enough of them in the world.

Dr. Metz is absolutely right about contacting the NLN and about compression measures. However, as I discussed above, if the massage therapist is going to treat the lymphedema, then they need to be trained as a CLT. If they are just giving massage, then they need to know enough to avoid the area at risk or with lymphedema.

2 thoughts on “Brown Bag Chat: Integrating Complementary Therapy Into Your Cancer Care

  1. Dear All, I am a reflexologist (netherlands) and my final papers was on Reflexology, Breastcancer and Fatigue. We (clients and me) accomplished a 23,5 to 40% improvement on the factor Fatigue within 10 treatments. Does your institute have any experience with reflexology?

  2. I wish to thank you very much for this comment, as a former mastectomy fitter and one that has spoken as a educator to other fitters I believe in what you do sadly my job was ended when the shoppe closed, however, i would compliment you by saying the women who did this type of work in our center of healing were benefitted immenensely, I truly do applaud this,my reserach had been on the NLN and also the vodder trained specialist in Denmark who worked on this area.I am now teaching at my alumna the Fashion Institure of Technology in New York. kindest regards, keep up your wonderful work.

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