Acupuncture is used in integrative oncology programs (in combination with conventional treatment) around the world including USA, Israel and Australia to improve quality of life for patients undergoing cancer treatment and for cancer survivors. Research has confirmed that Acupuncture is effective in the management of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting in combination with anti-emetic medications, but research into other symptoms such as cancer related fatigue, cancer related insomnia, cancer pain and neuropathy is still ongoing.
Post cancer related symptoms or cancer adverse effects may be present from chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, bone marrow transplants, biological therapies or hormone therapies all of which may contribute to the following side effects (1, 2):
We understand that one or more of the above symptoms can place a burden on you, or a loved one’s quality of life in relation to physical function, ability to perform daily activities or psychological distress. We also understand the financial pressure that may be involved or the inability to work, and the distress that this or the impact of symptoms may have on you, your family or friends. We want to be able to provide you and your family with as much support as possible.
In saying this, we take into consideration your body as a whole and treat according to the presenting symptoms, your lifestyle and dietary habits and also make note of any environmental or emotional distress that may be present. By understanding this allows us to design a treatment plan specific to your needs in hope that we can help successfully enhance your quality of life in combination with any current or usual care that you already receive.
Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting is an unwanted side effect of cancer treatment and is often not fully controlled even with state-of-the-art antiemetics. Acupuncture can assist in improving quality of life for these cancer patients and is accepted as an appropriate referral option (7, 8). Acupuncture is also recognised as having a potential positive effect on cancer pain (7).
Cancer-related fatigue is difficult to understand unless you have truly experienced it. It is unlike any other fatigue you may have experienced. It is commonly defined as a subjective feeling of physical, emotional or cognitive tiredness or exhaustion that is not proportional to the recently performed activity (3). Acupuncture for post cancer related fatigue is still inconclusive but research is ongoing. Acupuncture may be effective in particular fatigue contexts that favourably affect symptoms that amplify fatigue such as:
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV)
Hempel S, Taylor SL, Solloway MR, Miake-Lye IM, Beroes JM, Shanman R, et al. VA Evidence-based Synthesis
McKeon C, Smith, C.A., Hardy, J. & Chang, E. Acupunctrue and acupressure for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting : a systematic review. Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. 2013;8(1):2-17.
Garcia MK, McQuade J, Lee R, Haddad R, Spano M, Cohen L. Acupuncture for symptom management in cancer care: an update. Curr Oncol Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):418.
Zeng Y, Luo T, Finnegan-John J, Cheng AS. Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 May;13(3):193-200.