About Us FAQs

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.

Client and General Public FAQs

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, ensure that trained therapists have the knowledge and skills to carry out safe and appropriate treatments, without the need for medical approval.

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 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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Does it matter if I have a massage on the day of my chemotherapy infusion?

Yes it does. Some integrative hospitals offer foot massage while you receive your chemo to help you relax which in turn enhances how the body metabolises the medications.

Some oncologists prefer you to wait for 48 hours after your infusion to minimise the risk of infection.

I am having radiotherapy is it OK for me to have massage?

In theory yes. However, the therapist will need to consider at what stage of treatment  you are – by this we refer to the beginning of radiotherapy, middle, or end, when the skin might become more red, sore or where possible skin burns are still healing. 

It is preferable for a client not to receive a therapy treatment just before, or just after a radiotherapy treatment, as some skin products can affect the radiotherapy treatment process.

I am having proton beam therapy can I have massage?

Yes, the therapist will apply the same considerations as radiotherapy.

I had to undergo surgery for cancer how long do I need to wait before I can have massage?

There are several things to consider after surgery for the removal of a tumour or lymph nodes. The body needs a little time to heal and recover. The therapist will check that the incision has healed well and there were no complications during or after surgery. Providing the wound is healing well, with no infection, your therapist can adapt the treatment to work around the area and perform light Touch Therapy. They may also modify or adapt your position to ensure your comfort.

Is it possible to have a massage if I have lymphoedema?

Yes it is; however, you must explain your specific circumstances to your therapist during your consultation so the necessary precautions and guidelines can be followed.

I have lymphoedema in my arm/leg - can I have back massage?

The therapist will not be able to offer a firm massage to the affected limb and the nearby side of the body. However, Touch Therapy massage can be adapted to ensure that a safe pressure is delivered to the arm and the nearest part of the back throughout the treatment. Similar adaptations can be made for areas of the body, such as the legs, or the neck, if lymph nodes have been removed or radiated. 

I have been told that I have a peripheral neuropathy can I still have a massage?

Yes, massage can be very beneficial to those experiencing chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy.

I have had a blood transfusion/infusion because of the side effects of my chemotherapy, can I have a massage?

Yes. There are several reasons why transfusions/infusions are given after chemotherapy. It might be due to low red blood cells (anaemia) or maybe because of low white blood cells and platelets, which can affect the immune system, or cause skin bruising. 

SATCC approved therapists are trained to utilise the highest standards of hygiene and sanitisation, to minimise any risk of infection. Touch Therapy massage also ensures a safe pressure to avoid the possibility of bruising.

I have a Hickman line, PICC line, central line, implantable port, can I have a massage with these fitted?

Yes, care will be taken when working around medical devises. 

My toes and fingernails have gone a different colour, or black because of chemotherapy - can I have a massage?

Yes, you can have a massage. Some hand and foot treatments have been specifically developed to support the nail bed and surrounding tissue.

I have a colostomy bag, can I still have a massage?

Yes you can. Your therapist will assist you to the most comfortable position in which to receive your treatment.

Why are you offering this service?

We understand that people living with cancer or with a history of cancer may wish to have massage, facials or other spa treatments but might find it difficult to access them, especially without the need for a letter from their GP. 

SATCC believes that by creating a directory of approved spas, salons and therapists and by elevating the standards of education for Cancer Touch Therapy we can improve the quality of life for spa guests with compromised health.

Therapists, Salons and Spas FAQs

How do I become / get my therapists trained to be SATCC approved therapist/s?

It is a prerequisite that therapists must hold a UK/Internationally recognised accredited qualification in the specific treatment performed, which must include anatomy and physiology and relevant insurance cover.  Therapists should then complete and pass a SATCC recognised training course. SATCC approved training providers and courses can be found on the SATCC website and also ThinkTree Hub. 

Do I need to provide proof of my/therapists therapy qualification?

Yes, in order to be accepted on any SATCC training course proof of eligibility will be required in original copy. 

How do I know that a course is a SATCC approved training provider?

A list of SATCC approved training providers can be found on the SATCC and Think Tree Hub Websites.

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.

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

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

Will people with cancer still need a letter from their GP before they can receive treatments?

No. Under the current training and regulations, beauty therapists are not permitted to treat people living with cancer without that person providing a letter from their GP or a medical professional.  However, therapists who have been trained by a SATCC approved training provider have been through specialist training, to ensure that they are confident and competent to be able to provide Touch Therapy treatments without the need for consent from a doctor.

Once the therapist/salon or spa has completed a SATCC approved training course, what do they need to do?
  • Welcome and provide treatments to clients living with cancer and beyond, and be insured to do so
  • Provide treatments that meet and are in accordance with the SATCC practise Standard 
  • Maintain all records in accordance with the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (EU)(GPDR)
  • Take part in practitioner feedback surveys 
  • Not behave in any way which adversely affects the good reputation of SATCC
  • Display the SATCC logo 
  • Promote the work of SATCC to increase public awareness 
  • They will be listed on the SATCC register of approved and trained therapists/salons or spas
What is the SATCC Standards Document?

The Standards Document features specific guidelines for training providers on the content that is required to be delivered during SATCC approved training courses and for therapists on how to prepare, plan and conduct Touch Therapy as well as information regarding complex contra-indications and how to handle these appropriately.

Is there a cost to become an SATCC approved therapist/spa or salon?

Yes, there is a small charge of £20 per therapist to cover administration. 

If I or my therapists have already been trained by one of the SATCC approved training providers can we the register, or do we need to complete the course again?

Any therapist who has successfully completed an SATCC approved course and can provide a copy of their certificate will automatically be SATCC accredited and eligible to register online. However, if their training was over 2 years ago or they are unable to locate their certificate, a one-day refresher training will be required.

Training Providers/Organisations FAQs

How do I become a SATCC approved Training Provider?

Apply to the SATCC, who will send you a copy the SATCC Standards Document and Charter. The SATCC will then review the training you offer to ensure it meets the criteria within the SATCC Standards Document. If needed advice can be given regarding any necessary changes/additions that maybe needed to meet the standard required in order to comply and gain approval. 

What is expected of an SATCC approved Training Provider/Organisation?

They will:

  • Promote the SATCC Standard and the good reputation of SATCC
  • Be listed on the SATCC register of approved training providers / organisations
  • Adhere to the rights and responsibilities outlined in the SATCC Charter and SATCC Code of Conduct
  • Adhere to the SATCC Standard when approving training provider CPD courses
  • Comply to Health and Safety Legislation as detailed in the Standard
  • Be considerate to the rights and interests of other Standard users
  • In accordance with the SATCC Charter ensure learning materials include training for all customer facing staff to fully understand the treatments available to people living with cancer and beyond
  • Allow SATCC periodic access to documentation
  • Agree to be periodically audited by the SATCC
  • Training providers are responsible for ensuring their list of trained therapists is regularly updated, detailing when therapists move to a different spa/salon or if they set up on their own 
  • Training providers will also check that spas/salons they have trained maintain a sufficient number of SATCC approved therapists
Where will the Training Provider/Organisation be listed?

Therapists, salons and spas will be able to find a list of SATCC approved training providers on the SATCC and ThinkTree Hub websites.

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.

How much does it cost to be a SATCC approved Training Provider/Organisation?

There is a small charge of £250 to cover administration.

Will people with cancer still need a letter from their GP before they can receive treatments?

No. Under the current training and regulations, beauty therapists are not permitted to treat people living with cancer without that person providing a letter from their GP or a medical professional.  However, therapists who have been trained by a SATCC approved training provider have been through specialist training, to ensure that they are confident and competent to be able to provide Touch Therapy treatments without the need for consent from a doctor.

Once the therapist/salon or spa has completed a SATCC approved training course, what do they need to do?
  • Welcome and provide treatments to clients living with cancer and beyond, and be insured to do so
  • Provide treatments that meet and are in accordance with the SATCC practise Standard 
  • Maintain all records in accordance with the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (EU)(GPDR)
  • Take part in practitioner feedback surveys 
  • Not behave in any way which adversely affects the good reputation of SATCC
  • Display the SATCC logo 
  • Promote the work of SATCC to increase public awareness 
  • They will be listed on the SATCC register of approved and trained therapists/salons or spas
What is the SATCC Standards Document?

The Standards Document features specific guidelines for training providers on the content that is required to be delivered during SATCC approved training courses and for therapists on how to prepare, plan and conduct Touch Therapy as well as information regarding complex contra-indications and how to handle these appropriately.

Is there a cost to become an SATCC approved therapist/spa or salon?

Yes, there is a small charge of £20 per therapist to cover administration. 

If I or my therapists have already been trained by one of the SATCC approved training providers can we the register, or do we need to complete the course again?

Any therapist who has successfully completed an SATCC approved course and can provide a copy of their certificate will automatically be SATCC accredited and eligible to register online. However, if their training was over 2 years ago or they are unable to locate their certificate, a one-day refresher training will be required.