Can acupuncture contribute to the betterment of people suffering from cancer? Certainly! Cancer is not one condition but more than 300 various forms of malignancies. Each form of cancer has its very own clinical behavior, pathophysiology, and histology. Since each type of cancer is unique in itself, so too are the forms of treatment used to manage each type of cancer. We have several kinds of radiation therapies, and different forms of high-energy particle beam generators, hormonal agents, and chemotherapies that correspond to the specific type of cancer they are designed to treat. Also included in this list of treatments are mind-body holistic therapies, nutritional support, and different kinds of surgical procedures.
The best way to cure a cancer is to diagnose and treat it in its early stages. An early diagnosis and early surgery is the most effective treatment for most types of cancer. Exceptions to this rule can include childhood leukemia and other hematologic malignancies as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and germinal cancers, which are addressed with a single or combination of therapies that may include stem cell transplantation, bone marrow transplantation, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Some of the former are the most commonly curable cancers that may or may not be treated with surgery.
If a cancer is diagnosed at a later stage of development, or if it crops back after surgery or if the surgery is unsuccessful, treatment then will be palliative in nature since the cure for it is all but lost (with rare exceptions). Palliative surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can be considered as palliative therapies.
Acupuncture can benefit cancer patients as it can serve as an alternative to anesthesia in postsurgical recovery and pain management or as a complementary therapy in accelerating and assisting recovery from the after effects of various extremely toxic therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Acupuncture is a very useful modality for the alleviation of the side effects of medications, for the minimal use of these medications, for the quicker resolution of tissue swelling, hematoma and postsurgical swelling, and of course, for the effective for control of pain.
Electro-acupuncture, a type of acupuncture that uses acupuncture needles attached to wires connected to an electrical generating gadget that discharges mild pulses of electricity transmitted to the wires and needles to boost the potency of the treatment, combined with moxibustion (a Chinese medicine modality that uses and burns a moxa herb on the surface of the affected part of the body to bring about healing), all help in the betterment of a cancer patient’s condition. These two forms of Chinese medicine techniques, combined with nutritional therapy, are now widely used in several cancer institutions.
The most unpleasant cancer symptoms of vomiting and nausea are side effects experienced by cancer undergoing chemotherapy and other forms of cancer therapies. These so-called therapies are even much feared by a lot of patients than even the disease itself. A lot of oncologists have seen patients throw up just at the thought of going to their next upcoming treatment. A few years ago, a controlled study performed at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine showed that acupuncture combined with moxibustion significantly reduced vomiting and nausea side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy when they were given before and after these therapies. These two Chinese medicines procedure are quite simple and easy to execute and are often done in an outpatient basis. Their efficacy is evidenced in their ability to minimize the side effects of cancer therapies as well as the use of said therapies that are very expensive and very toxic.
It is common knowledge that acupuncture is a powerful treatment for physical pain. What is rarely known is that it is also helpful in relieving cancer-related pain and in its ability to reduce cancer medication use which results in the attendant side effects of severe constipation, nausea, behavioral changes, disturbed mentation, and confusion.
Acupuncturists can select a number of various acupuncture techniques including body acupuncture, ear acupuncture, osteo-puncture and percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, to name a few to help treat some of the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer therapies. According to traditional Chinese medicine, any chronic disease process exhausts the levels of energy level in a person. This exhaustion can be improved by a tonification process that increases energy into the body. For successful pain management, this is seen as necessary. It also helps lower the malaise related to cancer and any type of chronic disease as well as boost the patient’s well-being.
The immune response of cancer patients can be vastly improved with nutritional therapy. Along with acupuncture, nutritional therapy can neutralize the suppression of white blood and immune cell that chemotherapy tends to cause making the patient stronger and much better able to repel complications and infections.
Acupuncture increases the energy level of the patient. It also restores homeostasis by bringing back balance to energy and clearing out any energy blockages in the energetic channels. Regular acupuncture procedures that direct healing energy to diseased organ systems such as the kidney, pancreas, and liver can be performed to boost the energy level of the patient.
The level of effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in Portland is often based on a number of clinical factors such as the parts of the body affected, the progress of the disease, and the manifested symptoms. In whatever stage of cancer the patient is in and the kind of medications and therapies he/she is using/undergoing, acupuncture can still be a useful tool in helping the patient improve his/her condition.