The aim of most acupuncture clinical observation and clinical trials in cancer patients has been to study the effects of acupuncture on cancer symptoms and side effects caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, cough, coughing up blood, anxiety, depression, dry mouth, proctitis, speech problems, blocked esophagus, hiccups, and fluid in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are efffective for helping cancer patients to improve their quality of life.
Pain Management: Acupuncture is very effective for managing pain related to tumors, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and inflammation.
Nausea and Vomiting: Strong evidence from clinical trials that acupuncture relieves nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
Hot flashes: Hormone therapy may cause hot flashes in women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that acupuncture may be effective in relieving hot flashes in these patients.
Immune System: Many cancers and many cancer treatments cause a suppression of the bone marrow, the source of blood cells that are the army of the immune system. Acupuncture increases blood cell production and enhances Natural Killer Cells and Lymphocytes which leads to increased immune response and decreased risk of infection.
Fatigue: A randomized study of patients with cancer-related fatigue found that those who had a series of acupuncture treatments had less fatigue compared to those who had acupressure or sham acupressure treatments.
Dry, Painful Mouth, and Throat: Cancer patients receiving radiation to the head and neck experience dry mouth due to the reduction in saliva production. Additionally, radiation treatments lead to pain and swelling in the mouth and throat making it very difficult to swallow. These patients often lose their sense of taste as well. Acupuncture has been shown to decrease these side effects allowing the patient to be able to swallow, eat and drink normally, protect the health of the teeth and gums and reduce the incidence of infections, as well as pain and swelling in the mouth and throat during radiation therapy.
Sleep: Cancer patients suffer sleep disruption and insomnia due to post-surgical discomfort, anxiety and depression and physical pain. By relieving these symptoms the cancer patient is able to get the deep sleep and rest required for recovery and healing.