Why Oncology Massage Training?

Q: Why is it important that a massage therapist have special training before working with anyone who is being treated or has been treated for cancer?

A:  Each of the following common cancer related conditions (and others) require substantial adjustments be made for the client's comfort and/or safety.  The massage therapist must know what particulars to elicit from the client and then know the corresponding adjustments.

Anemia (low red blood count)
Anticoagulant Therapy
Ascites (fluid in the abdomen)
Bone Metastasis (spread of cancer to bones)
Breast Expander or Implant
Colostomy / Iliostomy / Jejunostomy / Urostomy
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Foley Catheter
Immunosupression (immune compromised)
Leukopenia (low white blood count)
Lymph Node Enlargement
Lymph Node Removal
Lymph Node Irradiation
PEG or PEJ Tube
PICC line or Port
Radiation Skin Reaction
Radioactive Implant
Radioactive Iodine
Risk of Lymphedema
Skin Eruption
Surgical Adhesions
Surgical Scarring
Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
Upcoming Radiation

Q: Why isn't the client's physician's approval for massage enough?

A: There are clear medical thought processes by which physicians authorize participation in school athletics, approve return to work after surgery, prescribe physical therapy and many others.  Not so for massage therapy which is practiced in many different ways by therapists with many different levels of training.

A growing number of physicians welcome massage therapy for their patients, but it is not realistic to expect them to be aware of all the variations.   It is  better for the  client/patient to see a trained oncology massage therapist who will automatically adjust the massage for patient safety and will include the physician in the massage care plan conversation if needed.

Q: Where and when is oncology training for massage therapists available?

A: Trainings are offered by more than a dozen S4OM Recognized Instructors.  They teach all over the US and in some foreign countries.

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