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Elizabeth Fellows, LAc
Acupuncture For Side Effects Of Breast Cancer Treatments
Center Point Healing
. https://www.centerpointhealing.com/

Acupuncture For Side Effects Of Breast Cancer Treatments

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 cancer treatments can make it even worse. Until now, many people thought they had to just suffer through that discomfort. But new research shows that acupuncture is very effective at relieving the side effects of breast cancer treatments.

Cancer-related fatigue is a common symptom. In fact, more than 40% of women experience moderate to severe fatigue, sometimes for years after the treatment stops. In a study at the University of Manchester in England, researchers found that acupuncture reduced fatigue in breast cancer patients. Approximately 227 women with breast cancer were chosen to undergo six weeks of weekly acupuncture sessions in addition to their normal cancer treatments. Seventy five 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 six 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.

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 contraindicated. 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 three groups, each of whom came in eight times over 12 weeks. The specific acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments specifically addressing their symptoms. The non-specific 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.

Breast cancer hormone therapy can produce another common complaint – joint pain and stiffness.

Researchers at Columbia University divided 51 women into two groups. One group received true acupuncture for six 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.

Many cancer patients (not just those being treated for breast cancer) develop chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Early intervention with acupuncture (at the onset of chemotherapy treatment or very soon after it begins) can help prevent or reduce this particularly uncomfortable side effect. Indeed, receiving acupuncture during chemotherapy for any kind of cancer can help reduce fatigue and nausea too.

Acupuncture is a great support to cancer treatments. It has few side effects and is effective. Without so many uncomfortable side effects, you’re free to focus on healing.

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