This is our page of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) and testimonials of those who have had treatments from approved SATCC therapists and students of SATCC approved course providers.


What is the SATCC?

The Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care (SATCC) is a highly credible, independent, governing body that promotes and supports the needs of individuals touched by cancer and provides a high quality and comprehensive Standard for training courses that is nationally recognised to support and engage therapists and employers.

What is the purpose of the SATCC?

The SATCC’s mission is to provide a national Standard, allowing people touched by cancer access to appropriately qualified therapists who are trained to safely care for their individual needs. The SATCC Standard provides guidelines to ensure therapists’ competence, and client safety and confidence in the delivery of their treatments. The SATCC provides a register of approved training courses and providers and also a register for the general public to find therapists and spas who have undertaken SATCC approved training and are able to provide Cancer Touch Therapies; treatments for people living with cancer.

Who are the SATCC?

Sue Harmsworth, industry influencer and founder of ESPA, has brought together a group of 13 owners and founders of leading training providers in the UK and Ireland to create the Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care (SATCC). The SATCC advisory board members share a combined 327 years’ worth of industry expertise and have trained well over 10,000 therapists.

Why is the SATCC needed?

According to the World Health Organisation, the number of global cancer deaths is projected to increase by 45% by 2030 - further scientific projections suggest that one in two people born after 1970 in the UK and across world are going to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. We also know that 60 per cent of both cancer patient cases and recurrent cancer cases are preventable by lifestyle choices. Despite this, a vast number of spas and salons still turn away people touched by cancer – arguably at the time they need the most support, due to lack of knowledge and fear of liability. The SATCC advisory board is concerned that many courses are being offered which are not advanced or comprehensive enough to sufficiently educate therapists to accommodate those touched by cancer.

Where can clients find a list of SATCC qualified therapists, salons and spas?

There is an official register of each on the SATCC website, the ThinkTree Hub also has the list for therapists and salons and Spa Breaks website for Spas.

Who will therapists be able to do treatments on after the SATCC approved training?

They will be trained to provide treatments for clients living with cancer and beyond. It is the therapist’s/salon/spa’s responsibility to must ensure they obtain the correct insurance prior to doing this. (Usual contra-indications apply).

How long is the training?

The length of training may vary slightly pending on the provider but all SATCC approved training providers will cover the practical and knowledge requirements set out in the SATCC Standards Document. However, SATCC do not endorse one day training programmes.

Do I have to keep my wig on during the treatment?

No, however if you prefer to that is fine too, whatever makes you comfortable. SATCC approved therapists are aware of considerations around wearing wigs and scarves and are discreet and sensitive around the removal and storage during treatment. Remember they will have seen many people who are hair free, or where re-growth is taking place.

I am having Chemotherapy can I still have a massage?

Yes, providing you feel well. There are various types of chemotherapy, each with their own possible side effects. Some clients experience tiredness and nausea after chemotherapy, so may prefer to wait until they feel better. There can be many side effects to chemotherapy and a SATCC registered therapist will be trained to ask the right questions and make the treatment as comfortable and safe as possible, unique to your specific needs.

Can I have reflexology or aromatherapy as a treatment, during are after cancer treatment?

Reflexology is often administered in hospitals (such as The Royal Marsden) as one of the most sought-after complementary therapies. It is safe to receive as long as the skin on the hands and feet are intact. Clinical aromatherapy is also used in hospitals to help with stress reduction and respiratory challenges. However, please discuss any use of essential oils with your oncologist as some oils can interfere with chemotherapy.

Can I stop the massage treatment if I feel pain or discomfort?

Yes absolutely, however its very unlikely the therapist would hurt you. You are in complete control of the session, from positioning, to pressure and duration.

I find it hard to be in one position for a long time can I still have a massage?

. Yes, the therapist will adapt the treatment to meet your personal needs.

Is it true that I have to wait for a number of years before I can have massage after I have finished cancer treatment?

No, this is not accurate. SATCC approved training ensures that trained therapists are compliant with up to date guidelines and massage, spa and beauty treatments can be safely delivered at all stages of cancer and cancer treatment.

If I only want certain areas massaged would this be ok?

Yes, you can have a massage that is bespoke to your comfort level or sensitivities – whatever makes you feel comfortable. Just let your therapist know in your consultation, so your treatment can be planned and adapted to address your specific needs.

Do I need to wear special clothes to receive this massage?

No, just wear comfortable clothing to the spa and your therapist will assist you in the treatment room if you wish.

Is massage beneficial to clients with a history of cancer?

There have been several studies in the US and Europe that show the medical benefits of gentle massage. For example, study results have concluded that clients report a reduction in stress and anxiety levels, improved sleep patterns, a reduction in pain and an overall feeling of wellbeing after a treatment. Some evidence suggests that it can also support immune function. Despite the benefits, some clients and indeed therapists have in the past, been concerned that a massage can cause cancer cells to spread to other parts of their body, but there is no medical or scientific evidence to support this. Touch therapy massage techniques can be adapted over certain areas of the body - for instance those who experience treatment related lymphoedema will definitely need to receive this lighter and more gentle form of massage. SATCC approved training ensures that therapists are aware of this and are able to adapt the pressure to make the treatment safe and suitable.

Can someone with cancer have spa and beauty treatments?

Yes, guests with cancer can have spa and beauty treatments providing the therapist has undergone specialist training. The therapist may need to adapt the treatment to suit the individual client. These adaptations may include choosing different products, omitting certain areas of the body, reducing pressure and adapting positioning.

Why do some spas, salons or therapists decline to treat some people who have or have had cancer?

People who are in active treatment for cancer or with a history of cancer may have specific health considerations. Under current training and insurance regulation, therapists are not permitted to carry out some beauty techniques on people living with cancer. Although some awarding bodies are cautious around massage in general, it is approved and often offered at cancer hospitals in the UK and Ireland. In addition, therapist’s insurance cover specifies that the clients, care provider or GP should approve such treatments before a therapist can treat - unfortunately, many people are not aware of this when they book an appointment. GPs and care providers are sometimes unwilling to signal medical clearance because they may not understand the nature of the treatment in question. SATCC approved training providers, ensures that trained therapists have the knowledge and skills to carry out safe and appropriate treatments, without the need for medical approval.

Why do people who have cancer or have a history of cancer, need to have a modified treatment?

Clients can have massage, complementary and spa treatments, but the treatments may need to be adapted, according to the client’s medical history, or current considerations because of their treatment. For example, the consultation process might reveal that a client has hair, skin or nail issues as a result of their treatment and appropriate skincare products will need to be considered by the therapist.

What other benefits does the Training Provider/Organisation have once it’s approved?

The Training Provider/Organisation will be listed on the approved register as per the above, as well as being able to display the SATCC approved logo and promote their training as one of the approved SATCC training providers.