Acupuncture During Breast Cancer Treatment

By January 19, 2016Acupuncture, cancer care

Having breast cancer is hard. Your body wages a war against cancer cells and your emotions may slide into fear, grief, anxiety and depression. And unfortunately, the side effects from breast cancer treatments can make it even worse. Until now, many people thought they had to suffer through all the discomfort. But new research shows that acupuncture is very effective at relieving the side effects of breast cancer treatments.

Cancer care is a regular part of our practice. The practitioners of Integrative Acupuncture have implemented a strong acupuncture department at National Life Cancer Treatment Center in Berlin, VT over the past five years. We have gained extended experience using acupuncture to support patients going through standard medical care for cancer.

Many nationally recognized cancer treatment centers use acupuncture including Memorial Sloan Kettering, where our providers received additional training in using acupuncture cancer care. Other hospitals like Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America all recognize acupuncture’s effects and include it in their cancer treatment.

 

Acupuncture Relieves Cancer-Related Fatigue

Cancer-related fatigue is a common symptom for breast cancer patients. In fact, more than 40% of women experience moderate to severe fatigue, sometimes for years after the treatment stops.
In a new study at the University of Manchester in England, researchers found that acupuncture reduced fatigue in breast cancer patients. In this study approximately 227 women with breast cancer were chosen to undergo 6 weeks of weekly acupuncture sessions in addition to their normal cancer treatments. 75 women continued with their regular treatments but didn’t have acupuncture. All women were given a booklet about managing their fatigue.

 

By the end of the 6 weeks, the women who had received acupuncture treatments reported feeling much better in their overall fatigue, physical fatigue and mental fatigue. They also reported improvements in their anxiety and depression, well-being and overall quality of life.

Acupuncture Reduces Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are another common side effect of breast cancer treatments. Hormone treatments are widely used for breast cancer, especially for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. These treatments induce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Usually doctors prescribe hormone treatments to reduce menopausal symptoms, but in this case they are inappropriate. This leaves women without any symptom relief.

 

In previous studies, acupuncture provided safe, effective relief from hot flashes in menopausal women. In a joint study with Yale University and University of Pittsburg, researchers decided to see if it worked for women experiencing the same symptoms from breast cancer treatments. Thirty-nine women were divided into 3 groups, each of which came in 8 times over 12 weeks. The specific acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments specifically addressing their symptoms.

 

The nonspecific acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments in points unrelated to their symptoms. Finally, the control group received educational materials for symptom relief and healthy lifestyle.

The results? The groups receiving acupuncture showed a 30% reduction in hot flashes while the control group showed no change.

At Integrative Acupuncture, we stimulate specific points on the body to strengthen and allow better circulation. This creates a better homeostasis, which results in reduced hot flashes and night sweats. We also commonly employ certain combinations of Chinese herbs that have been used for hundreds of years for this purpose. The providers at Integrative Acupuncture are amongst few herbalists in the state to achieve certification with the state of Vermont to provide natural and safe herbal remedies.

Acupuncture Reduces Joint Pain

Breast cancer hormone therapy can produce another common complaint—joint pain and stiffness.  Researchers at Columbia ,University divided 51 women into 2 groups. One group received true acupuncture for 6 weeks and the other received “fake” acupuncture.

The women receiving true acupuncture reported a significant decrease in joint pain. 20% reported no longer needing pain medications. Best of all, overall physical well-being increased.

The women with fake acupuncture showed no improvements. The researchers concluded acupuncture is a great way to manage joint pain and stiffness.

 

Improve Your Well-Being

These studies show that acupuncture is a great support to your cancer treatments. It has few side effects and is effective for many women. Without so many uncomfortable side effects, you’re free to focus on healing.

Don’t keep suffering. If you are undergoing breast cancer treatments, call us today or schedule a free consultation. You can feel comfortable and help relieve the unpleasant side effects of your cancer treatments. More and more, people are seeking balance exercises to reduce stress and harmonize body, mind and spirit. Tai Chi, Qi Gong and certain forms of yoga are exercises designed to maintain balance in the body while cultivating Qi energy that can keep you strong and healthy.

Talk to a qualified professional before you start an exercise routine to best determine what exercises will be most effective in reaching your desired outcome of a healthy, balanced body.

Consider acupuncture for: Performance enhancement; identifying the underlying conditions that may predispose an individual to injuries; and for treating sport-related injuries effectively. Remember, acupuncture can be introduced at any phase of a treatment regimen for an injury. It is safe, effective and natural.