Acupuncture and Cancer

I came across a great post today which discusses the ever widening use of acupuncture for cancer patients both during treatment to manage side effects and improve quality of life and after cancer treatment to restore and rebuild health for cancer survivors. Acupuncture is especially valuable to cancer survivors to prevent recurrence by boosting immune function. Acupuncturists from all over the country are mentioned in this post demonstrating the ever widening acceptance of and access to acupuncture treatment for cancer patients and cancer survivors.

Acupuncture is effective in helping cancer patients deal with pain, sleep, hot flashes, menopausal symptoms, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, immune support, bone marrow supprssion, anemia, digestion, diarrhea and constipaton and  a broad range of quality of life issues including depression and anxiety and sense of well being. Acupuncture treatment for cancer patients and cancer survivors is becoming widely accepted at cancer treatment centers worldwide.

Here are some excerpts from this excellent post by Diana Price:

Acupuncture and Cancer Treatment

Included on the World Health Organization’s list are symptoms related to cancer treatment. In recent years studies and clinical trials have increasingly indicated the positive impact that acupuncture can have on patients’ quality of life during cancer treatment. Specifically, researchers have been investigating the role of acupuncture in relieving pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

……. two studies that specifically speak to the impact of acupuncture on side effects of treatment….. In one study of breast cancer patients suffering from hot flashes, researchers found that adding acupuncture to breast cancer treatment may help manage symptoms with fewer side effects than conventional pharmaceutical treatment.  In the second, twice-weekly acupuncture treatments were found to relieve severe dry mouth in head and neck cancer patients being treated with radiation.

“Some of the greatest benefits with acupuncture treatment are in the area of symptom management during cancer treatment,” Dr. Cohen says. In addition to the relief that patients can find from side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, Dr. Cohen adds, is the benefit to those experiencing post-surgery pain and recovery, fatigue, and depression during cancer diagnoses and treatment. “We can also help women who go through premature menopause have an easier time with the symptoms associated with reduced hormones,” she adds. If a diagnosis is terminal, “acupuncture can also be used for pain management at end of life, when spirit points are often used as part of palliative care.”

Patients Find Relief

When Rhonda Radliff was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in November 2007, she knew right away that she wanted to incorporate complementary therapies into her treatment plan. So when she began to experience fairly intense side effects shortly after beginning treatment, she turned to acupuncture. “When I began treatment, the medicine had to work hard to diminish the amount of disease, and I had lot of side effects from the chemotherapy. Since I didn’t want to take even more drugs, I did some research and saw that acupuncture would help alleviate, or lessen, some of my side effects.”

Rhonda, who is treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, sought help from through the hospital’s Place of Wellness, which offers patients a variety of complementary therapies. In her initial year of therapy, Rhonda found relief from bad bone pain, fatigue, headaches, and nausea. “It also seemed to help reduce the rashes and swelling caused by the chemo,” she says. She continues to combat lingering side effects and says that the treatments provide relief.

Collaboration and Care

Patients like Rhonda, who benefit from acupuncture as part of an integrative healthcare plan, speak to the value of a collaborative approach between Eastern and Western practitioners. Dr. Cohen is inspired by the increasingly open communication that exists between practitioners of the two traditions. “It is important to me that we are developing new lines of communication between Eastern and Western practitioners and are bridging the gap that has existed for a long time.”

You may also be interested in reading an article I wrote for the Huffington Post:
“Can Acupuncture Treatment Help Cancer Patients?
Is Soy Safe? Breast Cancer and Menopause
Beware: Antibiotics Linked to Breast Cancer
Book Review: Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer, by Donald Yance

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