Breast Cancer and Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are known to improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer. They can aid in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and the flu like symptoms associated with chemotherapy. In addition, they help with the side effects of radiation, including healing burns, and significantly improve pain levels, healing post lumpectomy, mastectomy and reconstruction.A recent study from the UK found that acupuncture performed once a week for 6 weeks is effective at managing cancer-related mental and physical fatigue as well as activity levels, motivation, and quality of life is increased. The authors speculate that the benefits of acupuncture in treating fatigue may be in part mediated by its effect on pro-inflammatory cytokines. (Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2012 Oct 29.) This week a pilot study was published online, out of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center in New York City which showed that acupuncture significantly reduced limb circumference in patients with breast-cancer-related lymphedema. Lymphedema affects 30% of breast cancer survivors and up to this point did not have a safe and inexpensive intervention. Acupuncture was performed twice a week for four weeks and produced up to 30% reduction in arm circumference. Dr. Cassilith, who conducted the study, emphasized the importance of using a trained acupuncturist for lymphedema treatment. We concur not only for lymphedema but also for any type of cancer related acupuncture support. Both Catherine Travis and Dana Price are highly trained and experienced practitioners who use gentle, effective, and safe techniques.