Is There Enough Education on the Treatment of Cancer Patients within the Spa Industry?

Why is there a lack of education regarding the treatment of cancer patients in the spa industry? // Photo Credit: nd3000/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Years ago, Sue Harmsworth, founder of ESPA and a member of the task force for Wellness For Cancer (WFC), noticed an increase in the number of clients with cancer seeking spa treatments. “As consultations in spas became more prevalent, one of the questions was 'Do you have or have you had cancer?'" says Harmsworth. “Or at the other end of the scale, there was no consultation at all, often because of a language barrier.” 

As a result, two scenarios emerged. In one, the therapists felt apprehensive and unsure about how to treat guests with cancer, so spas adopted a policy of only treating clients with cancer if they could provide a doctor’s note. That meant turning away clients who were seeking out their care often using the wrong terminology. The other scenario involved finding out halfway through a treatment that there were issues and not knowing how to handle it. According to Harmsworth, both have a negative psychological impact on guests.

While WFC has certainly changed the way spas treat those suffering from cancer, the industry still has a ways to go. “One of my big problems with the industry, globally, is that courses are being introduced— because awareness is now much greater, and the number of clients is increasing—but there is no regulatory body monitoring the content of the courses, and most of them are too short, often two or three days, without good theory, contraindications, or information on different types of cancer,” says Harmsworth. 

Spa and Wellness Show

IECSC Florida | October 6-7, 2019

Join us in Fort Lauderdale for the 22nd IECSC Florida event! The conference program features dozens of sessions and a variety of specialized tracks taught by industry experts. Don’t miss our Beauty Education, free Healthcare & Wellness Session and six CBD-focused classes – all new for 2019! Register by September 3 and save $10 per day on admission and up to $100 on conference. Exhibit hall admission includes access to 200+ exhibitors and 30+ free classes. Don't miss IECSC Florida – the southeast’s leading spa and wellness show!

According to her, the issue goes well beyond just breast cancer, as therapists need to know how to respond to people diagnosed with other cancers, as well. Harmsworth also points out that the industry is cutting down on industry training due to the cost and staff turnover.


Six Tips for Partnering with a Charity for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Spa Professionals Touched By Cancer Can Now Apply for the Give Back to Our Own Fund

Sue Harmsworth Announces Departure from ESPA

Suggested Articles

Watch as Chris Diaz, founder and CEO of Lacuna Botanicals, explains his product development process, live from the American Spa CBD Summit.

This year, the event is celebrating 22 years as the leading spa and wellness show in the southeast.

Watch Erin Lorow, national director of sales for Pevonia, as she explains the benefits of the Rapid-Restore duo.