Oncology massage 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 hold certification as a massage therapist before enrolling. A practicum or clinical experience is included in the program.
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. In addition to this, completion of a foundational training course recognized by the Society for Oncology Massage may also be required.
In general, applicants to a training program must have completed 500 hours in a professional massage therapy program. Programs also require applicants to complete pathology coursework with clinical experience. Some schools assign readings to students that must be completed prior to the start of the program.
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
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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
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
- Doctors' offices
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for massage therapists is expected to increase at the faster-than-average rate of 22% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage for massage therapists as of May 2015 was $38,040, per the BLS.
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). Individuals must complete 200 hours of work experience and 48 continuing education hours every four years.
An oncology massage certificate or training program prepares certified massage therapists to work with cancer patients in a range of healthcare settings after obtaining certification from the NCBTMB.