“Very therapist-friendly. Clean, clear, specific and immediately applicable.”
--Stephanie Olive Manion, Seattle, WA
“I could not have
attended a more valuable course - so well worth the time and effort!”
--Jane Otaqui, Wells, Somerset UK
As the role of massage therapy in cancer care expands, it is an exciting time to
provide oncology massage. In this intensive course, we combine the art and science of touch to create
safe, effective massage sessions for clients with cancer and cancer histories. In a lively, supportive
learning environment, participants learn simple, concrete ways to adapt traditional massage to cancer
and cancer treatment. We practice interviewing, follow-up questions, massage planning, and adapting
traditional western massage techniques to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, bone metastasis, vital organ
involvement, and lymphedema risk.
We look closely at the dynamics of cancer spread, shining new light on the old myth that
massage was contraindicated, and we introduce several approaches for educating the public about this
common concern. Unique positioning and bolstering techniques are introduced for pain
relief, sleep support, and overall comfort. We use guiding principles and practices that can be
implemented across a broad spectrum of client presentations (from robust to medically frail), in a
variety of massage settings (hospital, private practice, spa or retreat center, franchise or group
A balanced approach to learning blends lecture, spirited discussion, and hands-on work with client
volunteers. Music, art, and literature help to deepen our understanding of the journey. Massage
therapists leave with essential oncology massage tools: sample protocols, a client intake form, follow-up questions, visual decision tree, massage
contraindications, a physician communication form,
interviewing experience, supervised hands-on practice, and an extensive training manual. Because we are
recognized by the Society for Oncology Massage, participants who complete the training are eligible to
apply for membership.
Recognize the basic steps of cancer metastasis, and help to dispel concerns
that massage and increased circulation could spread cancer.
Communicate clearly with consumers and other health care professionals about
common massage therapy adjustments for cancer, using a Decision Tree and describing massage elements
such as pressure, joint movement, site, and position in plain language.
Adapt massage therapy to typical cancer presentations, including accessible
primary tumor sites, bone involvement, and vital organ involvement.
Adapt massage therapy to common cancer treatments, including chemotherapy,
surgery, and radiation therapy.
Benefits of Massage Therapy for People with Cancer
Cancer, Metastasis, and Massage
Using a Decision Tree to Describe Massage Contraindications
The Massage Therapy Pressure Scale
Communicating with a Client's Physician
Massage Adjustments for Active Cancer
Adapting to Client Presentations: from Frail to Robust
Positioning and Bolstering for Comfort and Symptom Relief
Chemotherapy and Massage
Radiation Therapy and Massage
Massage, Surgery, and Thrombosis
Lymphedema and Lymphedema Risk
The Non-Circulatory Massage Protocol
The Low-Impact Massage Protocol
Massage Protocol for Thrombosis Risk
Massage Protocol for Lymphedema Risk
Other Cancer Treatments (Hormone Therapy, Targeted Therapy, Stem Cell/Bone Marrow Transplant)
Common Clinical Presentations
Hands-On Clinic with Client Volunteers (with Cancer and Cancer Histories)
Roundtable Discussion of Clinic Cases
A balanced approach to learning includes lecture, hands-on
sessions, lively discussion, and a straightforward format that doesn't require constant
It includes a comprehensive course manual with
many resources for continued learning. A highlight of
work with volunteer clients on the last day—offers
a chance to practice skills in a supervised clinic setting.
The goal is to fashion hands-on sessions that soothe,
heal, and reduce pain and isolation.
Hands-on practice is artfully mixed with discussion and lecture.
Varying approaches to the work--meditative, cognitive, kinesthetic,
visual, emotional, auditory, intuitive--are honored throughout
the course. A safe learning setting allows therapists to build
lasting knowledge and skills. The 75-page course manual, client
intake forms and materials for the physician assist massage
therapists in their practice, long after the course is over.
This is an intensive course, packed with information. We make it manageable by varying our format, teaching style,
classroom setup, and pacing. We are sensitive to students
of all backgrounds and levels, and encourage questions and
discussion. Massage therapists from varying backgrounds give
the course outstanding reviews.
Graduates of at least a 500-hour professional massage therapy program or equivalent.
Advanced students who have completed pathology coursework and some clinical experience, by approval of
the instructor. Other health professionals with instructor approval.
Participants will be sent a required reading list of articles to be accessed online and read before
The following text is strongly recommended but not required:
Walton, Tracy. Medical Conditions and Massage Therapy: A Decision Tree Approach. Philadelphia,
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011.