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Oncology Acupuncture: Cancer Support

As a 20 year cancer survivor, I know what it feels like to be told you have cancer. Devastating. Terrifying. Shocking. I have watched family members and patients go through cancer treatment that often comes with brutal side effects. Debiltating nausea. Bone crushing pain. Exhausting hot flashes and night sweats. Joint pain. Anxiety. Fatigue…and more. Sometimes these side effects of standard of care for cancer result in the need to lessen the dose of chemotherapy, or pause treatment temporarily, which can impact survival.

What would it feel like to have regular support to diminish the side effects of cancer treatment?

The good news is that there is a growing body of evidence-based research showing the benefits of acupuncture and botanical medicine to address the side effects of cancer treatment. The NIH has recommended acupuncture for chemotherapy nausea. In my 25 years of clinical experience, treating many cancer patients during chemotherapy with a variety of cancers (breast, pancreatic, ovarian, endometrial, and gastric), in every case, patients came with significant nausea (even requesting I place the trashcan near to the treatment table in case they needed to vomit), and after I placed needles in specific acupuncture points, the nausea went away and they were each thinking about what they would have to eat after they left! This is important not only because it improves quality of life, but because having adequate nutrition keeps you strong enough to continue your treatment regimen, and that impacts survival.

When women have hormone positive breast cancer, they are often given anti-hormonal treatments that cause debilitating hot flashes. These hot flashes can be so bad that up to 50% of women will stop the treatment prematurely. Discontinuing this prescribed medication can negatively impact recurrence and survival. Acupuncture has been compared to Venlafaxine (an anti-depressant) for diminishing hot flashes. Both modalities significantly reduced hot flashes, but once treatment stopped, the hot flashes began to come back after only 2 weeks in the group who took Venlafaxine, but it took 15 weeks for hot flashes to return in women who got acupuncture. Additionally, the acupuncture group had no side effects where the group taking Venlafaxine had numerous side effects like dizziness, nausea, anxiety. Men who have prostate cancer are often treated with anti-hormonal treatments, and have similar side effects of hot flashes. They can have similar benefits from acupuncture treatment.

Women with hormone-positive breast cancer who take aromatase-inhibitors often experience debilitating joint pain. Studies show acupuncture may help reduce treatment-related joint pain for breast cancer patients. In fact, women reported less pain for up to 24 weeks following the end of acupuncture treatment.

“I felt like I was run over by a freight train.” Cancer related fatigue is a frequent complaint from cancer patients. A meta-analysis showed acupuncture had a marked effect on fatigue in cancer patients, particularly among breast cancer patients.

Cancer patients with head and neck cancers who get radiation treatment often experience dry mouth (xerostomia). Patients who received acupuncture during radiation treatment reported less dry mouth up to 12 months after treatment.

During chemotherapy, blood counts are tested to make sure patients have adequate levels of White Blood Cells, and Red Blood Cells. Chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia (CIT), is a common complication, affecting up to 60 percent of cancer patients. Treatment often involves pharmaceutical drugs that come with painful side effects, or to reduce or delay future chemotherapy, risking less favorable outcomes. Now there is a botanical medicine remedy that has been researched for 15 years, tested in a randomized, controlled, double blind clinical trial on breast cancer patients during chemotherapy. In the group who had chemotherapy along with the botanical medicine remedy, only 18% had leukopenia (low white blood cell count) compared with 42% in the group that had chemotherapy alone. Only 18% of women taking the remedy along with chemotherapy had anemia (low red blood cell count), compared with 48% of those who had chemotherapy alone. Even more exciting, is the study demonstrated that the formula actively kills breast, colon and prostate cancer cell lines, enhancing the cancer-killing effect of the chemotherapy. This research has been published in well regarded, peer-reviewed journals, such as The Oncologist.

The American Cancer Society states that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will get cancer in their lifetime. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, I know how that feels, and I can help you get through your cancer treatment with a better quality of life. Please contact me to have a free consultation, and to get the support you deserve for the best outcome. I will be with you every step of the way.