Acupuncture is an aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine—one that’s been practiced for thousands of years. Despite the many evolutions and iterations of acupuncture over the years, one thing has always remained true from the beginning—the healing properties of acupuncture can be integrated in conventional cancer treatments to help offset painful and uncomfortable side effects that are often associated with those treatments.
How Acupuncture Can Help Cancer Patients During Treatment
For many cancer patients, undergoing treatment can cause just as much emotional and physical turmoil as actually being diagnosed with the disease itself. When integrated with a patient’s treatment plan, acupuncture can help to effectively offset some of the most common side effects that patients endure. This includes pain, nausea, fatigue, and other side effects of traditional treatments like chemotherapy.
What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture in Cancer Care?
Many patients and even some practitioners often classify acupuncture for cancer patients as “alternative care”. Not only is this terminology confusing, but it’s also misleading because it implies that the practice of acupuncture has the capability to cure cancer, which it doesn’t. Actually, acupuncture is a supplementary treatment that works alongside cancer treatments to relieve any discomfort the patient may be experiencing as a result of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or surgery. Here are some of the benefits:
Reduces Cancer-Related Fatigue
Undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or tumour removal surgery can place a great burden on cancer patients, both emotionally and physically, and cause extreme fatigue. Recent studies have shown that acupuncture can help patients gain some of their strength back and even restore their energy.
Helps Reduce Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea, Pain, and Discomfort
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy are typically prone to experiencing light or heavy nausea throughout their treatment. Many studies have shown that acupuncture can effectively reduce the amount of nausea associated with cancer treatment.
Pain is also a common side effects associated with cancer treatment and can be relieved through acupuncture treatment. The only caveat is that, in some cases, acupuncture doesn’t completely eradicate the pain and discomfort altogether, but can reduce the intensity which, in turn, limits the amount of pain medications needed.
Reduces Hormone-Induced Hot Flashes
Patients who undergo breast cancer removal surgery are often put on hormonal therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence. Hormonal therapy medications lower estrogen levels in the body and also prevent estrogen from interfering with cancer cells. Hot flashes, among other things, are one of the most well-known side effects of these medications. When severe, the hot flashes can interfere with sleep, exercise, and daily quality of life. A 2016 study showed that acupuncture can help relieve and reduce the amount and intensity of hot flashes in post-op cancer patients.
Improve Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a common complication associated with cancer treatment that occurs when the nerves that carry messages (pain receptors) to and from the brain throughout the body are damaged or die. This can lead to loss of sensation, pain, numbness and tingling throughout the body. Studies have shown that acupuncture for cancer patients can help revive some of the lost sensations, reduce pain and numbness, and improve the patients’ quality of life.
After Cancer Treatment and “Survivorship”
“Survivorship” is characterized by surviving a traumatic illness, injury, or life event. In addition to the illness itself, cancer treatment can have a dire impact on a person’s mental and physical state. Continued post-cancer acupuncture treatment can help improve the overall quality of life of patients by reducing or eliminating their pain, relieving anxiety and depression, recovering appetite, managing sleep and hormonal balance and helping them regain their physical strength as they heal. Reproductive health, digestive balance, energy levels and more are some of the goals we work on to optimize health after cancer treatment.
For more information about the benefits of acupuncture treatment for cancer patients, book a consultation at Oncology Acupuncture Toronto.
Founded by Pauline Sok Yin Hwang, an Ontario-licensed Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) and Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.), Oncology Acupuncture Toronto provides natural support for people undergoing cancer treatment, recovery, and prevention by using acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, cupping, acupressure, and mindfulness meditation.