The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care


My background in science and my work in the medical industry and in Cancer hospitals has trained me to always turn to evidence-based research for my work. I continue with this premise working as a licensed acupuncturist, I strongly believe that in order to integrate acupuncture and other Complementary therapies into conventional medical practice successfully it is critical to develop scientific, evidence-based knowledge of through basic and clinical research.

This is especially true for me when working with cancer patients. So it is encouraging to see a sharp increase in acupuncture research in the field of oncology in the past thirty years, especially since the 1997 NIH consensus conference on acupuncture. This trend is reflected in the number of acupuncture research articles published, most of these are available on-line. For example, PubMed published 1428 articles specific to acupuncture in oncology.

The research studies suggest acupuncture can be helpful in managing cancer-related pain, hemotherapy-related neutropenia, cancer fatigue, and radiation-induced xerostomia. Using acupuncture for hot flashes in breast cancer patients is another active area of clinical study. Studies show the severity of the hot flashes can be significantly reduced with treatments. Patients may also experience chronic severe functional constipation (CSFC) as a side effect of cancer treatments. A study published online Sept. 12, 2016, by Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that electroacupuncture may be a treatment option for people with CSFC.

A number of cancer centres in the U.S., including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston are integrating acupuncture into cancer care. This trend parallels a broader trend of increasing use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among cancer patients. A recent study from one of these centers, MD Anderson Cancer Center tested acupuncture for cancer symptoms in 375 patients. Patients took a survey before and after the acupuncture treatment. The patients received an average of 3 treatments at the MD Anderson outpatient integrative medicine center. The best results in this trial were on people with hot flashes, fatigue, numbness/tingling and nausea.

Over the next few weeks my blogs will  provide more information about the symptom relief provided by acupuncture and more specific details on  the  research in this area.


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