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Women's healthcare

Oncology Massage


Christine Courtney, MIFPA, ITEC

Cert. Ed, Principal OBUS School of Healing Therapies.

A lot of people, including massage therapists, hold the belief that massage spreads cancer. This is NOT true. And to continually repeat this erroneous information denies people who are really in need of therapeutic touch from experiencing a powerfully relaxing and nurturing massage.

Massage can be given to anyone (with a small number of exceptions) at any stage of cancer treatment.

Massage can be givenwhile the person is receiving chemotherapy. That means they can receive massage while connected to the “chemotherapy drip” or at any time during the course of their chemotherapy. It can also be given when the person has completed treatment. Having had treatment for cancer does not mean they can never have a massage again.

How does oncology massage differ?

The oncology massage therapist will be trained to ask questions related to the type of treatment(s) the client has received for cancer. This means the massage to be adjusted and adapted to suit the client.


The therapist may take some time to get the client comfortable while making adjustment to facilitate: tenderness at the site of an operation; any equipment – such as a line attached to your arm, a stoma bag or a port; or tightness in a muscle or limb, which does not allow the client to relax.

Oncology massage and fatigue 

The fatigue that accompanies cancer treatment and recovery can be overwhelming. At some stages of treatment or recovery, an over-vigorous massage (while it feels good at the time!) can leave the client exhausted for a few days. Hence, the oncology massage therapist is trained to adjust pressure, speed and duration to help reduce the possibility of further fatiguing the client’s body.

Types of massage available:

The oncology massage therapist has been trained in a number of massage adaptations. Their focus is comfort. They can adapt almost any treatment to suit any stage of cancer treatment.

Receiving the diagnosis of cancer profoundly changes a person’s life. Everyone becomes highly stressed and many people feel lost and afraid. The disease information, the statistics, the list of possible treatments, the side effects and outcomes can be bewildering. Oncology massage therapists can help people at every stage of their cancer journey.

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