What is Oncology Massage?
Oncology massage is a gentle manual therapy that plays a pivotal role in addressing the needs of cancer patients. Light massage techniques are employed during a massage therapy session to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and manage the side effects of chemotherapy, such as pain, nausea and headaches. Oncology massage can also improve sleep quality and give peace of mind.
As well as improving their emotional wellbeing, people who have received oncology massage found that it has reduced their dependence on pharmaceutical drugs and increased their energy levels.
Why Study Oncology Massage?
Studying oncology massage will provide you with the skills and knowledge to work safely with people with cancer. Unlike other forms of massage where a client has to lie facing down, while the therapist manipulates their muscles to make them feel better, oncology massage places more emphasis on getting the client in a position which they're comfortable with.
The manipulation techniques applied are also modified according to the medical devices used in the client's treatment and its side effects. Medical research shows that oncology massage will reduce pain by 40.2%, anxiety by 52.2%, depression by 30.6% and fatigue by 40.7% (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, New York 2004). In addition to this, the University of California's research team showed significant and immediate improvement in the neutrophils and NK cells of cancer patients who have received this type of massage.
What Does It Take to Study Oncology Massage or Become a Practitioner of It?
A training course in oncology massage teaches students a holistic approach to alleviating pain and discomfort in people affected by cancer. Besides being empathetic, compassionate and a good listener, you must maintain an open mind and be willing to work alongside other health practitioners like medical doctors, to improve the quality of life for your client.
Anyone who holds a certification in massage therapy can enrol in an oncology massage certification program.
Course and Study Options for Oncology Massage
A certification course in oncology massage is relatively short and divided into four parts. The first part is open to massage therapists and anyone else who wishes to learn how to perform safe massage on a person with cancer. It gives an overview of the condition and how massage therapy can improve the wellbeing of cancer patients. Upon completion of level one, a student may proceed to the second part of the training program, provided that they hold a Certificate IV in Massage Therapy or a Diploma in Remedial Massage or Bowen Therapy.
Parts three and four of the training program will prepare students for clinical practice. Note that only individuals who have completed a Diploma in Remedial Massage and passed part two of the program can move up to levels three and four.
How to Choose a School or Course in Oncology Massage
Because oncology massage is a gentle therapy intended for cancer patients who are receiving treatment or palliative care, it's important that you choose a course provider whose curriculum meets the educational and training standards set forth by the Society for Oncology Massage (S4OM). You'll find a list of qualified learning institutions above this page.
Apart from the accreditation and course material of each school, you want to go over their delivery methods and course fees to find out if these match your needs. In fact, we highly suggest speaking to a course adviser from each institution to gain insight into their training methods as well as the career outcomes of their graduates.