The importance of Oncology Massage

Is your business ready to deal with clients with a history of, or diagnosis of cancer? Kylie Ochsenbein discusses the benefits of oncology massage.

Statistics tell us there is an increased diagnosis of cancer in our society but what you may not know is there is also an increased survival rate, due to earlier detection and more targeted treatments. For salons, spas and clinics around the country, there is an increased probability that your next client will have a history of cancer or may be undergoing cancer treatment.

Many clients won’t mention their history as it may have been many years ago. For some, if they do tell a therapist they have cancer, they risk being turned away as the business may have a policy not to treat them due to the risks to the client and the therapist.

What does this mean for you? For those of us physically touching our clients, there is a duty of care that dictates we will cause no harm. With appropriate training, therapists have a unique opportunity to contribute to the quality of life for cancer patients, and those with a history of cancer.

Oncology STORYFor some of those clients, their cancer treatment will have been uneventful with no lasting complications. For others, they will have unwanted treatment outcomes from surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy such as neuropathy in hands and feet, ongoing pain or fatigue and the ever present risk of developing lymphoedema should they have had lymph nodes treated or removed.

Completing an oncology massage course can give beauty therapists an insight into the cancer process and an understanding of what this client population has been through, physically and emotionally. The cancer process, how cancer forms and spreads and how massage can help, including effective head and neck massage sequence and how the common cancer treatments impact the body, are instrumental areas of learning.

Massage offers a drug-free way to help manage many of the common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy such as pain, fatigue, nausea, depression and anxiety. Therapists must also learn how to manage ports and medical devices they might see on their client and it is important to know how to work safely around them. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can have lasting effects on the skin so it is imperative to learn about safe skin products which can bring lasting relief and comfort to clients.

There is also now an increased awareness around oncology massage and organisations such as Cancer Council, Breast Cancer Network of Australia, Olivia Newton John Cancer and Wellness Centre, the Peter MacCallum Institute, Gawler Foundation, Quest For Life, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) now use qualified oncology massage therapists.

Kylie OschenbeinThis deeper understanding of the cancer treatment process and the impact on the client ensures that the treatment clients receive in your salon, spa or clinic will be of the highest quality.

Kylie Ochsenbein is managing director of Oncology Massage Limited

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