Acupuncture is becoming a more and more commonly used therapy in cancer treatment centers across the US. Integrative oncology is defined as “an evolving evidence-based specialty that uses complementary therapies in concert with medical treatment to enhance its efficacy, improve symptom control, alleviate patient distress and reduce suffering.” (J Soc Integr Oncol 2006;4(1):27–39)
What Does Acupuncture Do For Cancer Patients?
Common side effects involve nausea and digestive symptoms that limit food intake resulting in nutritional deficiency, peripheral neuropathy that may persist for over a year after exposure to certain chemotherapy medications, and general fatigue that affects the ability to accomplish daily tasks. Blood cell counts are commonly affected by chemotherapy that can make it unsafe to continue with the usual dosage. Acupuncture can help support the body undergoing this treatment in order to maintain the prescribed dosages and maximize the effect.
Integrative Acupuncture Specializes in Cancer Support
The practitioners at Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier, Vermont spend one day a week at National Life Cancer Treatment Center in Berlin, VT. The intention of having acupuncture when going through chemotherapy or radiation, or around surgery, is to prevent or minimize the associated side effects, help reduce anxiety, maintain healthy sleep, and manage pain.
Finding an Acupuncturist for Integrative Oncology
Many of the major cancer centers offer complementary therapies, recognizing the value of integrative care. Some examples are:
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Mayo Clinic
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Several acupuncture schools offer doctorate programs for specializing in women’s health or pain management, but there is currently no specialty in oncology. An acupuncturist who is knowledgeable in cancer care and can help support your cancer treatment is typically found in an integrative oncology setting as part of the provider team.
If you are interested in finding an acupuncturist to support your cancer treatment, speak to your cancer treatment center for a referral. You can also ask an acupuncturist directly as to their experience in cancer care. Please feel free to contact us to help guide you further.