Fighting Cancer? Drain the Lymph

By Ronda Niemiec and Ross Ashcraft

In my experience if you ask a large group of people if they have a family member that is battling or has been lost to cancer more than half of them will raise their hands.  According to the U.S. Census the second leading cause of death is cancer.  According to the Susan G Komen Foundation one of the top priorities of cancer survivors is making sure their family member are safe and protected from what they personally just experienced.  Soooooo what can we do to help?!  Does massage have an answer to helping the patient and families battling with cancer?

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Lymphatic massage, also known as lymphatic drainage or manual lymph drainage (MLD) is used to treat lymphedema.  It is a very gentle massage used to drain excess fluid from the body and improve functioning of the lymphatic system.  A session lasts approximately one hour and is performed four to five times a week for two to four weeks.  This is a wonderful and relaxing massage session that can create profound positive changes.


If pain or infection is present one should stop treatment and see their doctor.  If there is a sudden, marked increase in swelling, again, one should stop treatment and seek a doctor’s advice.  Up to 25% of breast cancer patients whose surgery includes the removal of lymph nodes develop lymphedema.  It is estimated that 140-250 million people are affected by lymphedema worldwide.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is localized swelling due to impairment in the flow of the lymphatic system.  There are two types of lymphedema:  primary and secondary.  Primary lymphedema is an inherited condition of an anatomical abnormality and is rare.  Secondary lymphedema is from damage or obstruction of a normal functioning lymphatic system.  Lymphedema in the United States most often affects women who have had breast surgery followed by radiation.  If lymphedema is left untreated, repeat infections, changes to the skin, and progressive decline in quality of life and activities of daily living may result.

National Lymphedema Network website is available below to help find a therapist skilled in lymphatic massage-don’t just let it go untreated.

What Can YOU Do?

If you are interested in training in Lymphatic Massage, we recommend the Chikly Health Institute.  They sponsor classes all over the country and would be an excellent source of training for any work with cancer patients and any form of lymphedema.  You do NOT have to be a massage therapist to enjoy doing this work.  Many of us wish we could make a difference in the lives of others, perhaps Lymphatic Drainage Massage is your outlet?!

We at Community Care College like to put our beliefs in practice.  We participate in many activities and events that support cancer awareness and funding.  Please consider joining us at the Purple Stride Event coming soon.  See details below and consider signing up!


Please share with us your fight with cancer…..or how you will help us fight!  We can take cancer down together!


Lymphatic Drainage

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28 thoughts on “Fighting Cancer? Drain the Lymph”

  1. This sounds extremely helpful and rewarding not only for the patients but for the one giving the massage. I think I’ll look into this after I graduate.

  2. I think lymphatic massage is an excellent skill for a therapist to have. There are so many different ailments it can help with. Just practicing a few of the self techniques at home has done wonders for my psoriasis.

  3. I’ve never heard of this so it is good information to have. I have also heard research that says changing our body intake and less sugar can help as a preventative practice.

  4. It is good to know that we as massage therapists can help family and friends who are battling with such horrible conditions, we may not be able to heal them but we can make them feel better and show that we care. I would love to learn more about Lymphatic Massage.

  5. I plan on continuing my education in lymphatic massage. I believe it has the power to change lives/improve quality of life.

  6. This kind of massage sounds interesting and to be able to help people with people with cancer would be great. I am looking forward to learning about lymphatic massage. It sounds like something I may want to put in to my practice.

  7. Great blog Ronda!!! I really want to get certified in lymphatic drainage, I love how it feels, and I like giving it too, not much effort, but great results!!!

  8. I love that we as massage therapists can help cancer patients by giving them drainage massage. Along with helping someone who has a cold.

  9. I think it would be great to continue education in lymphatic massage. It would be very rewarding to help someone feel better who has already suffered or is suffering from cancer.

  10. That is why I think Massage Therapy should be apart of the medical field I did not even know about this until today pretty cool.

  11. Great article Ronda!!! It is going take some time for me to get good at this. I want to use more pressure than I should. I am not a patient person at all. It is too slow paced for me. I have really benefited from receiving it. I have chronic ear trouble on my left side. Just in the passed two days I can already feel a difference. Again, thanks for a great article.

  12. This information is incredibly helpful. I plan to take all the continuing education I can after graduating and definite plan on exploring lymphatic massage further. Also, Ross, I saw that you commented on my best friends status and that you were inspired by her recent experience with breast cancer. I’m very grateful for your thoughtfulness, this blog post and I know she is as well. 🙂

  13. I have really enjoyed this week and learning about lymphatic massage. I’m kind of feel the same way April does. I want to go too fast but I can really see the benefits of lymphatic massage and would definitely like to learn more!

  14. Wow! I didn’t know that you didn’t even have to be a massage therapist to do this. That’s amazing how we can really help make a difference in someone’s life with such an extreme light touch.

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  16. Lymphatic Massage is something that I am particularly interested in. With my medical background and knowledge, I know first hand that this type of massage can bring relief to patients/clients who have no other options. This is what I am passionate about, really helping people.

  17. I think lymphatic massage is great treatment. I’ve witnessed first hand some amazing results and think it is an excellent field for massage therapists to become familiar with

  18. I absolutely love lymphatic massage. It has amazing and very rewarding results. I hope to incorporate this in to my career as a massage therapist.

  19. I wonder if you did this as a pretreatment you would never have a problem? Would that work? Tammy needs to bring her cards in. I am interested as a professional and being a client.

  20. I am amazed that such a light touch can offer so many healing benefits. It’s too bad there are so few people certified in this technique since so many would benefit from it.

  21. I’m impressed with the light touch that produce these results. Looking forward to learning more and seeing more results from this technique.

  22. I am very interested in Lymphatic massage and wish I had known about it it when I was younger. My father is around 800 lbs and I would love to see if this could help him.

  23. Learning about how LDT works has been very interesting. It helps the body in many ways that are very beneficial. However I do not think that it’s something I want to continue.

  24. I think it is awesome how we can help people with cancer and their family’s. I have enjoyed learning lymphatic drainage massage. It is really awesome how it can help with so many things.