By Robert Foley
Increasing evidence through research at Dana-Farber and elsewhere supports the use of acupuncture as a remedy for some of the symptoms breast cancer patients experience. This integrative therapy can be used in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy.
Wiedong Lu, MB, MPH, PhD, Oncology Acupuncturist at Dana-Farber’s Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, says acupuncture is an effective way to ease the effects of cancer treatments.
Acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on the skin by a variety of techniques. The most common type of acupuncture involves penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. Each acupuncture session lasts for about 45-60 minutes.
During acupuncture, the brain produces endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine that give the patient a positive feeling, according to Lu, who spoke at a recent forum for patients with metastatic breast cancer. He said that mainstream scientific evidence is now beginning to support the use of acupuncture in a variety of situations.
Here are some benefits of acupuncture:
- Reduces pain
- Increases energy
- Reduces hot flashes
- Improves sleep
- Reduces neuropathy
- Reduces nausea during chemotherapy treatments
- Relieves menopausal discomfort