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Acupuncture for Cancer Support

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the skin's surface.

What is it used for?

Acupuncture is utilized to alleviate various symptoms associated with cancer and cancer

treatment, including:

  • Pain

  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Fatigue

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Peripheral neuropathy

  • Hot flashes (resulting from breast and prostate cancer treatment)

  • Radiation-induced xerostomia/dry mouth (due to head and neck cancer treatment)

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is an ancient healing practice originating from the East, dating back 5,000 years. It is based on the concept that energy patterns flow through the body via channels called meridians, which connect the body's organs and systems. When these channels are blocked, illness can occur. Acupuncture works by removing these blockages, promoting energy flow, and enhancing overall health. Western scientists attribute acupuncture's effectiveness to the release of specific natural brain chemicals known as endorphins and the optimization of the body's natural immune response.

Does acupuncture work?

Multiple comprehensive reviews of published studies have demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture in managing various cancer and cancer treatment-related symptoms. Notably, there is substantial evidence supporting the use of acupuncture for controlling unmanaged pain and alleviating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. In pain-related studies, acupuncture in combination with usual care or as a standalone treatment consistently shows increased pain relief. Additionally, acupuncture treatment alongside usual care has been associated with a reduced need for drug therapy, minimizing potential side effects. Studies on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting consistently demonstrate a decrease in acute vomiting episodes with acupuncture treatment, although there is no significant difference in the severity of nausea. Combining acupuncture with standard drug therapy appears to offer the greatest benefit.

Evidence from randomized controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard in clinical trials, suggests that acupuncture can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in individuals with breast and prostate cancer, with effects lasting up to six months. Smaller studies have also indicated that acupuncture can alleviate fatigue and related distress in patients who have undergone chemotherapy and radiation. Preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture may benefit individuals with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, reducing symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers and toes, even in cases where drug therapy has been ineffective. Moreover, consistent findings from studies show that acupuncture improves salivary flow rate, reduces dryness and hoarseness, and enhances taste in individuals with radiation-induced xerostomia (dry mouth).

Next Steps

If you would like to learn more about or pursue acupuncture, you can reach out to Dr. D'Silva (ND) at our clinic.



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