Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells within the body. Patients diagnosed with cancer often feel depressive and forlorn, they experience pain, and go through series of treatments including chemotherapy and radiation leading to absolute exhaustion. Acupuncture cannot cure cancer, but it can help alleviate some of the physical and mental stresses caused by the disease.
When the patient first finds out about their cancer diagnosis, acupuncture can go a long way in relieving the mental stress felt before treatment has even started. The negative emotions felt after hearing such news will be treated in combination with the physical stress. In doing so, the success rate of the cancer treatment, when it starts, increases.
With acupuncture, it is possible to relieve: the symptoms of cancer, the strong negative emotions (of perhaps depression and anxiety), and the side effects related to treatment and chemotherapy that comes with the cancer diagnosis. To counteract the stress that the body undergoes during chemotherapy, acupuncture, as a supplementary treatment, can be used. It is a natural and traditional method that can be used to address specific symptoms a client might have, improving their overall lifestyle in spite the physical and mental pain that entails after knowing about the disease.
At the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and at the Mayo Clinic in Boston, acupuncture is recommended to patients diagnosed with cancer. Centers specializing in cancer treatment increasingly employ a Professional Acupuncturist to help with the patient’s general mental and physical well-being, and in doing so increase the chances of a speedy recovery after every chemotherapy.
There is no specific standardized protocol in place for acupuncture involving cancer patients, because of this, acupuncturists may target different pressure points to alleviate the various symptoms. Problems professional acupuncturists can target include anxiety, pain, inflammation, nausea, swelling, vomiting, fatigue, and indigestion (sometimes caused by the treatment). In general, acupuncture in cancer patients can help support normal digestion, boost the immune system which has been known to weaken after chemotherapy, and also improve sleep.
Patients receiving radiation to their head are known to have a painful swollen mouth and throat accompanied by the loss of their taste bud’s effectiveness. Acupuncture can decrease these symptoms and allow the client to enjoy his or her food and drink. A patient’s overall well-being increases with the comfort of his or her body. The ability to eat your meals with relative ease and enjoyment goes a long way when achieved by cancer patients.
Although acupuncture will not make the nausea of a patient and the tendency to vomit go away completely, it can reduce the frequency that the patient experiences. In doing so, acupuncture increases the patient’s way of life significantly; as the patient will be able to enjoy foods more often if he or she does not constantly feel sick.
Acupuncture has been reported to significantly help patients with their pain management. After acupuncture treatment, the dosage of the patient’s pain medication can be lowered, which in turn can reduce some of the unwanted side effects commonly associated with heavy medications, such as respiratory depression, nausea, confusion, difficulty urinating, constipation, and confusion. Acupuncture can treat physical symptoms such as pain and swelling, specifically when linked to inflammation (this as part of cancer’s physiology can be caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation).
Treatment for cancer often lowers the patient’s immune system by suppressing the source of leukocytes (white blood cells), the bone marrow. Specific pressure points that can be targeted in acupuncture increase the production of white blood cells and increases arterial blood flow, in doing so the immune system is thereby strengthened.