Cancer, it’s a diagnosis that no one wants to hear. It can leave you feeling frightened, uncertain, and powerless. But if you or a loved one is facing cancer, it’s important to have hope. In many cases, cancer can be cured, especially when it’s detected early. There are more treatments available now than ever before to cure cancer or slow it from spreading, relieve its symptoms, and help you live a healthier life.
It’s also important to know that you have options in addition to standard medical therapies. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of conditions. It can safely be used to naturally support your body and mind as you undergo conventional cancer treatments.
Understanding treatments and their side effects
Cancer is an overall term for a group of diseases that occur when cells begin to reproduce abnormally, eventually damaging or killing healthy tissue. Most cancers are named according to where they begin in the body, and there are more than 100 different types. The most common are breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.
Your treatment plan will be based on many factors, including the type and stage (how far it has spread) of the cancer and your overall health. While cancer treatments have proven to be effective, they do have serious side effects to take into account. The most common treatments include:
Surgery: Performed to remove the cancer if possible. Surgery may be used alone or along with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy.
Chemotherapy: The use of medications to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy generally lasts from 3 to 9 months, and can have side effects including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, early menopause, and hot flashes.
Radiation therapy: The use of high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Side effects generally include fatigue, hair loss, and skin darkening at the site of the treatment.
Biological therapy: This treatment works by boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Side effects depend on the specific type of therapy, but they can include rashes or swelling, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite.
How acupuncture and TCM can help
Acupuncture is used to treat many illnesses and ailments in cancer patients. Patients use it to control pain and to relieve nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hot flashes, xerostomia, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, and sleeping problems.
Acupuncture may work by causing physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain, affecting blood pressure and body temperature.
Laboratory and animal studies of acupuncture for cancer treatment suggest acupuncture may also help the immune system be stronger during chemotherapy.
The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting, but acupuncture appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.
It is important that acupuncture treatment be given by a qualified practitioner who uses a new set of disposable (single-use) needles for each patient.
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