August 31, 2018

Prostate cancer and acupuncture? Why not…

Acupuncture could be helpful for men who are undergoing treatment for prostate cancer or for relieving the side effects of the disease and treatments. The question is could this be anything more than placebo? Only the research will provide answers to this question.

Could acupuncture provide clinical benefit for cancer patients with treatment-related side effects such as nausea and vomiting, post operative pain, cancer related pain, hot flashes, chemotherapy-induced leukopenia, post chemotherapy fatigue, xerostomia, and possibly insomnia, anxiety?

There is no evidence at this time that acupuncture can treat cancer itself. As a complementary therapy for people living with cancer, the strongest evidence for acupuncture is helping ease nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Several studies have shown that acupuncture is most helpful for easing acute vomiting after chemotherapy. And that acupressure works best for acute nausea.

More research is needed to find out if acupuncture helps with other side effects such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, hot flashes or shortness of breath. They are also trying to find out if it can relieve nerve damage caused by chemotherapy or dry mouth caused by radiation therapy. Other research is looking at the safety of acupuncture in people with lymphedema.

For some patients, the reasons for consulting in acupuncture are many, whether to reduce their pain or hot flashes, get back their sleep, boost their energy and more. But the question is could this be anything more than placebo? Only research will provide answers to this question.

How does it work?

Traditional Chinese medicine explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of "yin" and "yang" of the life force known as "qi," pronounced "chi." Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of the forces.

Qi is said to flow through meridians, or pathways, in the human body. These meridiens and energy flows are accessible through 350 acupuncture points in the body.

Inserting needles into these points with appropriate combinations is said to bring the energy flow back into proper balance.

What to expect

Talk to your healthcare team if you are thinking about having acupuncture. Acupuncture may not be recommended if you have low white blood cell counts (because of the risk of infection) or low platelet counts (because of the risk of bleeding). Tell your acupuncturist that you have prostate cancer, any treatments that you have had or are having, and any medicines that you’re taking.

Acupuncture is generally thought to be safe. When it is done by a qualified practitioner, the risk of side effects is low.

Sterile, single-use, disposable needles lower the risk of infection or of transmitting HIV or hepatitis viruses. Sterile needles are very important for people receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy because these treatments can weaken the body’s immune system.

Allow 60 minutes per session at a cost of $60 to $75. Most acupuncture treatments are reimbursed by insurance companies.

Useful links to find an acupuncturist in your area
OAQ – Ordre des acupuncteurs du Québec
AAQ – Association des acupuncteurs du Québec
Acupuncture Canada

References
Canadian Cancer Society
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
Nation Institute of Health (NIH)-Acupuncture

Written by PROCURE. © All rights reserved - 2018

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