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Oncology Massage Certification and Training Program Information

Learn about oncology massage training and certification programs. Read about program options, educational prerequisites, coursework and certification requirements for individuals in this field.

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Essential Information

An oncology massage program prepares individuals to treat cancer patients with massage bodywork. Upon completion, individuals may take the certification exam. Programs may be available as either certification programs or training programs, both of which typically 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.

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 the use of massage bodywork to ease the 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.

Education Prerequisites

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 may 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 may also be required.

Program Coursework

A certification program in oncology massage may involve massage basics, as well as a clinical practicum. Topics covered may include:

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to, the median annual salary of a massage therapist was $45,708, as of November 2013. 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 (

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 ( Certificants must complete 200 hours of work experience and 48 continuing education hours every four years.

Training Program in Oncology Massage

Training provides students with the necessary skills involved in oncology massage. This program may introduce 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 often available through a course, workshop or program.

Education Prerequisites

In general, applicants of a training program must have completed 500 hours in a professional massage therapy program. Programs may 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 Coursework

Coursework in an oncology massage training program focuses on preparing individuals with the knowledge needed to provide safe and effective massage therapy for those living with cancer. Common courses include:

  • Metastasis overview
  • Chemotherapy side effects
  • Surgical procedures
  • Radiation
  • Lymphedema (lymphatic obstruction) risks
  • Client-centered massage sessions
  • Pressure and positioning
  • Contraindications of massage
  • Assessing the massage site

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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