Cancer Treatment Support
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) From Radiation
Acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of dry mouth (Xerostomia) after radiation for head and neck cancer, researchers reported.
The following is information from National Cancer Institute page on Acupuncture as CAM to cancer treatment.
Most studies of the use of acupuncture in cancer patients have been done in China. In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began evaluating the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture as a complementary and alternative therapy.
Studies of the effect of acupuncture on the immune system
Human studies on the effect of acupuncture have shown that it changes immune system response.
Studies of the effect of acupuncture on pain
In clinical studies, acupuncture reduced the amount of pain in some cancer patients. In one study, most of the patients treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking drugs for pain relief or to take smaller doses. The findings from these studies are not considered strong, however, because of weaknesses in study design and size. Studies using strict scientific methods are needed to prove how acupuncture affects pain.
Studies of the effect of acupuncture on muscle and joint pain from aromatase inhibitors (Acupuncture may relieve joint pain caused by some breast cancer treatment) Aromatase inhibitors, a type of hormone therapy for postmenopausal women who have hormone-dependent breast cancer, may cause muscle and joint pain. A randomized study found that true acupuncture was much more effective in relieving joint pain and stiffness than sham (inactive) acupuncture in patients taking aromatase inhibitors.
Studies of the effect of acupuncture on nausea and vomiting caused by cancer therapies (chemotherapy)
The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and morning sickness. It appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.
A study of acupuncture, vitamin B6 injections, or both for nausea and vomiting in patients treated with chemotherapy for ovarian cancer found that acupuncture and vitamin B6 together gave more relief from vomiting than acupuncture or vitamin B6 alone.
A study of acupressure for relief of nausea and vomiting was done in women undergoing chemotherapy. The study found that acupressure applied to an acupuncture point with a wristband helped to decrease nausea and vomiting and reduced the amount of medicine the women used for those symptoms.
A study of acupuncture for relief of nausea and vomiting was done in patients undergoing radiation therapy. Patients who received either true acupuncture or sham acupuncture were compared to patients who received standard care. The study found that patients in both the true and sham acupuncture groups developed less nausea and vomiting than those in the standard care group.
Studies of the effect of acupuncture on hot flashes in patients treated for cancer
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.
Study of the effect of acupuncture on fatigue in patients treated for cancer
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.
Studies of the effect of acupuncture on cancer symptoms (other than nausea) and side effects of cancer treatment
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.
* information from the National Cancer Institute