Cancer Support – Concord Center Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Acupuncture for Cancer Support

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine provide effective and holistic support for patients with cancer. Although western medicine is the preferred method for treating cancer, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be used effectively to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment, improve quality of life, enhance overall health and improve treatment results. For example when weight loss and blood cell counts become too low, many cancer patients are forced to stop their chemotherapy treatment. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be used to prevent or treat this by reducing nausea and vomiting 1-6and raising blood cell counts.7-10

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help the body heal itself. This is important because cancer and its treatment are extremely taxing on the body both physically and emotionally. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine improve emotional and physical wellbeing and reduce the side-effects of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Together with good nutrition, it can greatly improve the quality of life and overall health of patients with cancer.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are forms of palliative care for cancer patients, which focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. A 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed significant improvements in quality of life, reduced aggressiveness in end of life care and longer survival rates among patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer who began palliative care soon after their diagnosis.11 This research was long over due and welcomed by those who work with cancer patients and have witnessed the benefits of holistic and compassionate care.

A growing list of research studies have propelled doctors and hospitals to begin recognizing the important collaborative role of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of cancer. Leading cancer treatment centers, such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center now offer acupuncture for cancer patients right in their hospitals.

Acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine can be used to treat most side effects from cancer treatment including:

  • pain 12-15
  • fatigue 16-18
  • nausea and vomiting 1-6
  • hot flashes 19-25
  • constipation
  • dry mouth 26-30
  • poor appetite
  1. Gan TJ, Jiao KR, Zenn M, et al. A randomized controlled comparison of electro-acupoint stimulation or ondansetron versus placebo for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. Anesth Analg. Oct 2004;99(4):1070-1075. 
  2. Shen J, Wenger N, Glaspy J, et al. Electroacupuncture for control of myeloablative chemotherapy-induced emesis: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. Dec 6 2000;284(21):2755-2761.
  3. Shin YH, Kim TI, Shin MS, et al. Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy cycle for Korean postoperative stomach cancer patients. Cancer Nurs. Jul-Aug 2004;27(4):267-274.
  4. Ezzo J, Vickers A, Richardson MA, et al. Acupuncture-point stimulation for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. J Clin Oncol. Oct 1 2005;23(28):7188-7198.
  5. Molassiotis A, Helin AM, Dabbour R, et al. The effects of P6 acupressure in the prophylaxis of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients. Complement Th r Med. Mar 2007;15(1):3-12.
  6. Dean-Clower E, Doherty-Gilman AM, Keshaviah A, Baker F, Kaw C, Lu W, Manola J, Penson RT, Matulonis UA, Rosenthal DS. Acupuncture as palliative therapy for physical symptoms and quality of life for advanced cancer patients. Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):158-67. 
  7. Wei-Chung Liu, Wei-Ling Chuang, Min-Lung Tsai, Ji-Hong Hong, William H. McBride, and Chi-Shiun Chiang. Cordyceps sinensis Health Supplement Enhances Recovery from Taxol-Induced Leukopenia. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008 April; 233(4): 447–455.
  8. Kazuo Ogawa, Tatsushi Omatsu, Chinami Matsumoto, Naoko Tsuchiya, Masahiro Yamamoto, Yuji Naito, and Toshikazu Yoshikawa. Protective effect of the Japanese traditional medicine juzentaihoto on myelosuppression induced by the anticancer drug TS-1 and identification of a potential biomarker of this effect. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12: 118.
  9. Fumihide Takano, Yasuyuki Ohta, Tomoaki Tanaka, Kenroh Sasaki, Kyoko Kobayashi, Tomoya Takahashi, Nobuo Yahagi, Fumihiko Yoshizaki, Shinji Fushiya, and Tomihisa Ohta. Oral Administration of Ren-Shen-Yang-Rong-Tang ‘Ninjin’yoeito’ Protects Against Hematotoxicity and Induces Immature Erythroid Progenitor Cells in 5-Fluorouracil-induced Anemia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 June; 6(2): 247–256.
  10. Neora Yaal-Hahoshen,a Yair Maimon, Nava Siegelmann-Danieli, Shahar Lev-Ari, Ilan G. Ron, Fani Sperber, Noah Samuels, Jacob Shoham, and Ofer Merimskya. A Prospective, Controlled Study of the Botanical Compound Mixture LCS101 for Chemotherapy-Induced Hematological Complications in Breast Cancer. Oncologist. 2011 September; 16(9): 1197–1202.
  11. Temel JS, Greer JA, Muzikansky A, Gallagher ER, Admane S, Jackson VA, Dahlin CM, Blinderman CD, Jacobsen J, Pirl WF, Billings JA, Lynch TJ. Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010 Aug 19;363(8):733-42.
  12. Alimi D, Rubino C, Pichard-Leandri E, et al. Analgesic effect of auricular acupuncture for cancer pain: a randomized, blinded, controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. Nov 15 2003;21(22):4120-4126.
  13. Pfister DG, Cassileth BR, Deng GE, et al. Acupuncture for pain and dysfunction after neck dissection: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. May 20 2010;28(15):2565-2570.
  14. Wong RH, Lee TW, Sihoe AD, et al. Analgesic effect of electroacupuncture in postthoracotomy pain: a prospective randomized trial. Ann Thorac Surg 2006 Jun;81(6):2031–2036.
  15. Mehling WE, Jacobs B, Acree M, et al. Symptom management with massage and acupuncture in postoperative cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. J Pain Symptom Manage 2007 Mar;33 (3):258–266. 
  16. Molassiotis A, Bardy J, Finnegan-John J, Mackereth P, et al. Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2012 Oct 29.
  17. Vickers AJ, Straus DJ, Fearon B, et al. Acupuncture for postchemotherapy fatigue: a phase II study. J Clin Oncol. May 1 2004;22(9):1731-1735.
  18. Molassiotis A, Sylt P, Diggins H. The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: A randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2007;15:228–237.
  19. Walker EM, Rodriguez AI, Kohn B, et al. Acupuncture versus venlafaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. Feb 1 2010;28(4):634-640.
  20. Walker G, de Valois B, Davies R, Young T, Maher J. Ear acupuncture for hot flushes--the perceptions of women with breast cancer. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007 Nov;13(4):250–257.
  21. Bokmand S, Flyger H. Acupuncture relieves menopausal discomfort in breast cancer patients: A prospective, double blinded, randomized study. Breast. 2012 Aug 17.
  22. Frisk J, Källström AC, Wall N, Fredrikson M, Hammar M. Acupuncture improves health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) and sleep in women with breast cancer and hot flushes. Support Care Cancer. 2012 Apr;20(4):715-24.
  23. Ashamalla H, Jiang ML, Guirguis A, et al. Acupuncture for the alleviation of hot flashes in men treated with androgen ablation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. Apr 1 2011;79(5):1358-1363.
  24. Beer TM, Benavides M, Emmons SL, et al. Acupuncture for hot flashes in patients with prostate cancer. Urology. Nov 2010;76(5):1182-1188.
  25. Capodice J CP, Benson MC, et al. Acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in men with advanced prostate cancer. Int J Clin Med. 2011;2(1):51-55.
  26. Pfister DG, Cassileth BR, Deng GE, et al. Acupuncture for pain and dysfunction after neck dissection: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. May 20 2010;28(15):2565-2570.
  27. Meng Z, Garcia MK, Hu C, et al. Randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for prevention of radiation-induced xerostomia among patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Cancer. Nov 9 2011.
  28. Garcia MK, Chiang JS, Cohen L, et al. Acupuncture for radiation-induced xerostomia in patients with cancer: a pilot study. Head Neck. Oct 2009;31(10):1360-1368.
  29. Wong RK, James JL, Sagar S, et al. Phase 2 results from Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Study 0537: A phase 2/3 study comparing acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation versus pilocarpine in treating early radiation-induced xerostomia. Cancer. 2012 Jan 17.
  30. Simcock R, Fallowfield L., Monson K. et al. A randomised trial of acupuncture v oral care sessions in patients with chronic xerostomia following treatment of head and neck cancer. Ann Oncol 0: 1–8, 2012.
  31. Wong R, Sagar S. Acupuncture treatment for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy--a case series. Acupunct Med. 2006 Jun;24(2):87–91
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