Is Specific Training Required to Offer Oncology Massage as a Massage Therapist?

While the massage industry has the most oversight today it has ever seen, it is not typical for therapists to be trained in specific areas of massage such as oncology or lymphedema. It is up to the therapist to seek out training and become qualified in specialty areas like these. This requires the therapist to invest additional time, money, and education. While a brief overview may be provided in the therapists initial educational program for licensing, it is usually minimal and just that, a brief overview. If you are looking for a specific type of massage such as Oncology, check to see if your therapist has had the additional proper education and certification.

Massage therapy qualifications vary by State. All massage in the State of Arizona should have license displayed at their practice by the State. While most States require continuing education for massage therapists, the course topic selection to meet this requirement is up to the therapist.

When searching out a massage therapist, Oncology clients need to take the time to ensure the therapist they choose has additional training and knowledge in the Oncology area. Even if you were use to getting deep tissue massage prior to cancer, and your physician now indicates you are cancer free, this massage may no longer serve your needs as well. Changes in your body and recent treatments to stop the growth of cancer in your system must be addressed prior to therapy and a specific protocol for massage determined. The risk of lymphedema after cancer surgery can also create other issues.

A previous blog provides questions you can ask to find out if your massage therapist is qualified to provide you the care you need. Check out our 5 Important Questions You Should Ask Your Oncology Massage Therapist post for the questions you can ask your massage therapist to ensure they are qualified to provide the care you need.

There are resources on line where you can check a massage therapist’s affiliations and education.

Society for Oncology Massage (S4OM)
American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (AMBP)

–  Anita Bakke, LMT, CDT