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Acupuncture for Cancer

,Oncology Acupuncture is the application of advanced techniques in acupuncture for cancer patients and survivors. It is increasingly recognized as an important component of integrative cancer care, and offered in cancer hospitals and cancer centres around the world, including the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Dana Farber Cancer Center (Boston), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Cente (New York), MD Anderson Cancer Centre (Texas), the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Acupuncture is frequently one of the most popular services in these cancer hospitals, as it offers a simple, safe, versatile, drug-free therapy that can provide significant benefits at a relatively low cost. Many patients also report find treatments relaxing and eave with a greater sense of calm and well-being. See this video about the integration of acupuncture into cancer treatment at a children’s hospital in California. At Hillgreen Oncology Acupuncture & Herbs, we offer acupuncture for cancer patients in Toronto, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Etobicoke, King City, Brampton, Aurora, North York, the rest of Greater Toronto Area, as well as Trent Hills, Northumberland County, Peterborough, Belleville, Quinte West, and nearby counties. 

Acupuncture for Cancer

Acupuncture for cancer is most well-known for its ability to improve quality of life and reduce discomforts from cancer treatment side effects. For example, research has shown that regular acupuncture treatments can reduce fatigue, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling and pain), hot flashes, night sweating or disordered sweating, low appetite, constipation/diarrhea, anxiety, sleep problems (insomnia), dry mouth (xerostomia), shortness of breath, swallowing difficulties (dysphagia), low mood, and more. Acupuncture can benefit patients with lymphedema as well, along with standard lymphedema care including manual drainage and compression bandaging. Research also shows that low blood counts can also improve with regular acupuncture, which means your energy, immunity and healing functions can improve.[1,2,3,4]

When we do acupuncture for cancer patients, we put a strong emphasis on safety. We have extensive post-graduate training in acupuncture for cancer specifically, and follow published international standards for oncology acupuncture safety[5]. Only high-quality, sterile, single-use disposable needles are used, following official Clean Needle Technique. We avoid needling close to active tumour sites and use only shallow or non-needle methods when white blood cell or platelet counts fall below the recommended threshold. To maintain safety while maximizing effectiveness, we flexibly use special techniques as needed (e.g. distal acupuncture, microsystem acupuncture, or needle-less methods such as seeds, acupressure, magnets, etc).

Acupuncture for Cancer

At Hillgreen Oncology Acupuncture & Herbs, we don’t use a cookie-cutter approach — we recognize that everyone is different, and that the unique strength of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to understand each person’s unique condition. We use a holistic approach with a long history of analyzing how you are at the time of treatment, and customizing your treatment to that state. We treat not tumours, but whole people – body, mind and spirit, and always aim for you to leave calmer and happier than when you came in. Our acupuncture for cancer patients includes (as appropriate): acupressure massage, moxibustion (heat therapy), cupping, guasha (scraping therapy), and Qi Gong (breathing exercises). We also use mindfulness (awareness) techniques to achieve greater peace of mind, reduce suffering and promote well-being. Finally we work closely and refer frequently to naturopathic doctors, lymphedema specialists, psychotherapists, nurses, and other health professionals as needed. Find out more about our services here.


[1] Wu, Xinyin, Vincent CH Chung, Edwin P. Hui, Eric TC Ziea, Bacon FL Ng, Robin ST Ho, Kelvin KF Tsoi, Samuel YS Wong, and Justin CY Wu. “Effectiveness of Acupuncture and Related Therapies for Palliative Care of Cancer: Overview of Systematic Reviews.” Scientific Reports 5 (November 26, 2015): 16776. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep16776.

[2] Dos Santos, S., Hill, N., Morgan, A., Smith, J., Thai, C., Cheifetz, O., 2010. Acupuncture for Treating Common Side Effects Associated With Breast Cancer Treatment: A Systematic Review. Medical Acupuncture 22, 81–97. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2009.0730

[3] Garcia, M. Kay, Jennifer McQuade, Robin Haddad, Sonya Patel, Richard Lee, Peiying Yang, J. Lynn Palmer, and Lorenzo Cohen. “Systematic Review of Acupuncture in Cancer Care: A Synthesis of the Evidence.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 31, no. 7 (March 1, 2013): 952–60. https://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2012.43.5818.

[4] Chung, V.C., Wu, X., Hui, E.P., Ziea, E.T., Ng, B.F., Ho, R.S., Tsoi, K.K., Wong, S.Y., Wu, J.C., 2015. Effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine for cancer palliative care: overview of systematic reviews with meta-analyses. Scientific Reports 5, 18111. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep18111

[5] Filshie J, Hester J: Guidelines for providing acupuncture treatment for cancer patients: A peer-reviewed sample policy document. Acupunct Med 24:172-182, 2006.

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