Massage and the Lymphatic System - Discovering Oncology and Lymphedema

I'm always thankful and humbled when I get the opportunity to learn. I recently attended an Oncology class in Newport Beach Hoag Cancer Center in Orange County hosted by "Greet the Day" and taught by Johnette Du Rand LMT, BCTMB, and Esthetician.

The primary focus of the course was to discuss the long term effects of cancer treatment. Specifically, secondary Lymphedema (LE).

So, I decided that I'd provide you all with some of the information that I learned, regarding Lymphedema and how massage is beneficial to Cancer Survivors.

Yay! Massage is Beneficial!

To best understand Lymphedema we need to first appreciate the function of the Lymphatic System and the role LE plays in maintaining homeostasis.

The lymphatic system is part of the life giving Vascular System which uses Lymph fluid (from Latin Lympha or "water") or interstitial fluid to transport toxic byproducts out of the body. It is an essential player in facilitating immune responses and is the network through which lymph fluid drains, from the tissue into the bloodstream.

Simply put, the Lymphatic System helps our bodies fight against all kinds of bacteria, viruses, and noxious toxins resulting from cellular respiration.

Here's a few terms for those students interested in Health and Wellness.

Lymph Vessels:

The Lymph Vessels are thin walled vessels and capillaries structured like blood vessels, in which lymph fluid flows.

Lymph Fluid:

Lymph Fluid is a clearish white fluid made of white blood cells and lymphocytes.


Lymphocytes are white blood cells that helps the body fight against pathogens, viruses and other toxins

Lymphatic Ducts:

Lymphatic Ducts are lymph vessels that empty lymph fluid into the subclavian vein to be processed by the cardiovascular system. Consists of the Right&Left Lymphatic Duct, Thoracic Duct and Cisterna Chyli.

Lymphatic Organs:

Lymphatic Organs are organs where white blood cells are formed and matured. The two primary lymph organs are Red Bone Marrow and the Thymus Gland. Other organs that assist in the lymph are the spleen and the appendix.


Lymphedema is a condition in which the lymphatic system is compromised resulting in pooling or swelling of lymph fluid. It is usually caused by the involvement of lymph nodes during a surgery, biopsy or in radiation treatment. When lymph nodes are compromised triggering lymphedema is a life time risk.

What are the Symptoms of Lymphedema?

The symptoms of LE can present as pitting edema, numbness or tingling, tightness, a full feeling, reduced range of motion and a sunburn like discomfort.

What Can Trigger Lymphedema?

Long exposure to heat, physical trauma, puncture wounds, constriction, overexertion, changes in elevation and excess weight can call be triggers of LE for those at risk.

Massage Benefits

Massage research has proven beneficial results for those receiving massage promoting lymph flow, activating the parasympathetic nervous, resulting in improved rest and healing, and relieving tension.

Your Oncology Trained Massage Therapist will apply the appropriate pressure and stroke direction, reducing any risks of exasperating the symptoms of LE, while still allowing you to enjoy the serenity and tranquility that comes from a massage given with intention and education to back it.

Call or Text 657-205-8381 if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

-Priscilla Noriega, CMT | NOW Oncology Trained!

Note: Modified Massage is in no way meant to replace the treatments provided by a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) therapist or a Complete Decongestive Therapist (CDT)

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