Oncology Massage Certification and Training Program Information

An oncology massage program prepares individuals to treat cancer patients with massage bodywork. Upon completion, individuals take the certification exam. Programs are available in either certification programs or training programs

Essential Information

Programs help students learn to treat cancer patients through massage. Both certificate and training programs require students to have completed a massage therapy program, and even hold certification as a massage therapist, before enrolling. A practicum or clinical experience is included in the programs.

Prior to applying to a certification program, some schools require individuals to complete rudimentary courses, such as lymph drainage, Eastern medicine, foundations of oncology massage and certification preparation. Schools also require applicants complete a certified massage therapist program. In addition to this, completion of a foundational training course recognized by the Society for Oncology Massage also be required. In general, applicants of a training program must have completed 500 hours in a professional massage therapy program. Programs also require applicants complete pathology coursework with clinical experience. Some schools assign readings to students that must be completed prior to the start of the program.

  • Program Levels in Oncology Massage: Certificate; Training
  • Prerequisites: Rudimentary coursework; completion of a certified massage therapist program; 500 hours in a professional massage therapy program for training; assigned readings
  • Other Requirements: Preparation for certification exam

Certification Program in Oncology Massage

The chief purpose behind an oncology massage certification program is to teach individuals methods of massage treatment for medical purposes. Oncology massage therapists work exclusively with cancer patients. This program emphasizes use of massage bodywork to ease psychological and physical effects of cancer treatment. Significance is placed upon safety in this program, as well as ethical issues involved in working with cancer patients. A certification program in oncology massage involves massage basics, as well as a clinical practicum. Topics covered include:

  • Integrating Eastern practices with Western practices
  • Recognizing and understanding trauma
  • Manual drainage of the lymph nodes
  • Disease pathology
  • Home and community care
  • Swedish massage and aromatherapy

Training Program in Oncology Massage

Training provides students with the necessary skills involved in oncology massage. This program introduces trainees to the basics of massage therapy before delving into more advanced techniques. Oncology massage training programs base artful massage techniques on medical principles. Training is available through a course, workshop, or program. Coursework in an oncology massage training program focuses on preparing individuals with knowledge needed to provide safe and effective massage therapy for those living with cancer. Common courses include:

  • Metastasis overview and surgical procedures
  • Chemotherapy side effects and radiation
  • Lymphedema (lymphatic obstruction) risks
  • Client-centered massage sessions
  • Contraindications of massage
  • Assessing the massage site, pressure, and positioning

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to Salary.com, the median annual salary of a massage therapist was $47,494, as of June 2015. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of massage therapists is expected to increase at the faster-than-average rate of 20% from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education

Upon completion of a certification program, individuals may go on to take the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. According to the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), certification requires 500 hours of instruction with a demonstrated proficiency in the appropriate coursework and the passing of the NCBTMB's examination (www.ncbtmb.org). Certificants must complete 200 hours of work experience and 48 continuing education hours every four years.

Popular Career Options

Upon graduating from an oncology massage training program, individuals may choose from career options in the following areas:

  • Private massage practices
  • Infusion centers
  • Hospitals
  • Doctors' offices

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