Cancer is not just a single disease, cancer has over 300 different malignancies, each with its own unique histology, physiology, and clinical behavior. With the numerous types of cancer there are diverse types of chemotherapy and various delivery systems for radiation treatment. As well as various types of surgical procedures, nutritional support, and the body-mind holistic approach.
Acupuncture is not used by itself as a treatment for cancer. Rather, it is used in combination with advanced cancer treatment options to help relieve symptoms related to cancer.
For many people undergoing chemotherapy the nausea and vomiting which commonly occurs with patients can often be worse than the disease itself. Acupuncture can be effective with relieving these side effects, thus minimizing the use of multi-drug anti-nausea pharmaceutical medications.
Acupuncture can also be effective for some cancer-related pain and in reducing narcotic use and thereby minimizing the side effects confusion, emotional changes, behavioral changes and severe constipation.
At the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine, a well-controlled study completed over two years ago, the authors of the published paper reported significant reduction of nausea and vomiting when pre-treated with Acupuncture. It is now routinely administered before, after and in between chemotherapy treatment sessions for control or nausea and vomiting. Such treatments are relatively simple and easily executed in an outpatient setting. Its effectiveness helps in minimizing the use of standard, expensive multi-drug anti-nausea regimens and their side effects, given along with the chemotherapeutic agents.
Acupuncture is recommended to cancer patients at the Mayo Clinic and at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Today, many oncologists refer their patients for acupuncture treatment to manage cancer symptoms and cancer treatment related symptoms. Many cancer treatment centers now have Licensed Acupuncturists on staff to help patients manage the many challenges of the cancer journey.
While the degree of beneficial results from acupuncture treatment is dependent on various clinical factors such as presenting symptoms, clinical staging, timing of the encounter in the course of the illness, areas of involvement, the answer to the opening question “can acupuncture help me?” is, in all probability, that it can help in the care of the cancer patient.