Acupuncturists work with cancer patients to help reduce the side effects of the chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other western medicine treatments. An acupuncture treatment helps your body to balance and helps to lessen the side effects of cancer therapies.
Acupuncturists work alongside Western medicine practitioners as integrative partners. The acupuncturist will evaluate each patient for their individual concerns, so an acupuncture treatment given to a cancer patient undergoing chemo or radiation may focus on points that are specific for nausea, vomiting, pain, fatigue or neuropathy just to name a few. We have listed some of the side effects currently being researched and found to be helped with acupuncture.
Research On Acupuncture And Cancer Side Effects
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 began studying how acupuncture works for managing symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments, including:
- Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Pain after surgery
- Muscle and joint pain from aromatase inhibitors, a type of hormone therapy for postmenopausal women who have hormone-dependent breast cancer
- Peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy or other cancer drugs
- Hot flashes in women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer
- Cancer-related fatigue
- Dry mouth from radiation therapy
- Sleep problems
- Relieving depression
According to the National Cancer Institute, multiple studies have demonstrated that acupuncture has reduced nausea and vomiting, pain levels compared with patients who did not have acupuncture during their cancer treatment.
Please inform your doctor or medical care provider if you are interested in using acupuncture or any other complementary therapies to support your cancer treatments. As a rule, acupuncture doesn’t interfere with medications, but it's good to let the acupuncturist know what you're taking.
Learn what to expect during an acupuncture treatment.
Rebecca Flack, a licensed acupuncturist at Franciscan Health Indianapolis, is an honors graduate of the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago and the University of Indianapolis. She holds an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a master's degree in both acupuncture and Oriental medicine. To learn more about acupuncture services at Franciscan Health, visit FranciscanHealth.org/Acupuncture.
By Rebecca Flack, L.Ac., RN, MSOM, DAOMᴿᴵ
Acupuncturist, Franciscan Health Indianapolis