Cancer and Massage Therapy

Course Information

Course Code


Instruction Method

In-person workshop




14 hours (2 days-weekend)


Pam Hammond, RMT

Learner Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand general concepts of massage and describe how it may be used as an adjunct therapy particularly regarding its impact on painful tissue, fibrotic tissue, posture, stress, insomnia, and fatigue.
  • Explain the basic concepts of cancer treatments and discuss their common side effects.
  • Describe the importance of exercise in cancer rehabilitation and survivorship.
  • Explain the decongestive exercises for lymphedema and rehabilitation exercises for cording.
  • Explain contraindications relative to massage in areas of known metastasis and discuss safe and effective modifications to massage including exercise.
  • Identify common red flags and discuss if or why it is necessary to refer out.
  • Formulate patient-focused massage treatment plans and asses for cancer-related side effects specific to your patient’s cancer treatment and health history.
  • Demonstrate how massage modalities can be adapted to address patients’ cancer-related side effects safely and effectively from diagnosis to rehabilitation.
  • Demonstrate communications skills to develop patient therapist collaboration in areas such as goal setting, massage treatment planning, and exercise.
  • Assess issues related to common side effects including pain, stress, lymphedema, mobility issue, safety, decreased range of motion, and describe how to treat them with massage modalities.
  • Apply considerations for safe and effective massage, exercise, myofascial release, stretching, metastasis etc., through the use of case studies, and peer practice.
  • Apply considerations for safe and effective massage for palliative cancer patients through the use of case studies, and peer practice.
  • Demonstrate communication and technical skills necessary to teach caregivers how to massage in a safe and comforting manner.

Course Objectives

The objective of this workshop is to provide RMTs with the knowledge and skillset to work confidently, safely, and effectively with patients who have cancer or a history with cancer.

  • Attendees will be expected to practice technical skills on peers (in pairs) throughout the workshop. Kindly dress in a manner that will facilitate peer practice.
  • In order to practice skills throughout the workshop, attendees are expected to bring:
    • Massage table
    • Pillows
    • Wedges

If you are unable to bring a massage table, please contact Pam Hammond at



  • Must be registered massage therapists (RMTs) who have a strong interest in working with people with cancer/ a history of cancer.
  • Must have successfully completed the foundational eLearning course “Introduction to Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship” which provides an overview of cancer, its treatments, common persistent and late adverse effects, and a general understanding of cancer survivorship and outpatient rehabilitation.

Topics Covered

This workshop is divided into two days. The first day focuses on the fundamentals of cancer massage and the second focuses on practical application.

Topics include:

  • Cancer, cancer treatments, and dispelling myths
  • Benefits of massage therapy for short and long-term effects of cancer and cancer treatment
  • Contraindications and modification of massage modalities
  • Assessment and massage modalities for common side effects
  • Common red flags and when to refer out
  • Positioning for comfort and symptom relief
  • Massage and palliative care
  • Effective communication skills
  • Teaching caregivers how to massage in a safe and effective manner
  • Exercise and Rehabilitation

Cancer and Massage Therapy – ONCE120

Registration instructions:

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COVID Vaccine Requirement:

Proof of full vaccination (2 doses) for all learners is required for all onsite attendance at Michener.
Fully online courses do not require proof of vaccination.

Instructions to upload proof of COVID vaccination to Self Service