Desert Sands Cancer Care
Acupuncture has become increasingly popular in the last couple decades as people explore alternative forms of medicine. Many are surprised to find that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be used for almost any ailment-- from the common cold to chronic pain, skin disorders, fertility and emotional issues. Several studies done through the National Institutes of Health have shown that acupuncture can be quite beneficial for individuals undergoing treatments for cancer.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 10 million individuals are diagnosed with cancer each year, and the number is rising. Despite extensive research and advanced chemotherapeutic drugs, cancer continues to claim many lives regardless of age, race, and gender.
Treatment of tumors was discussed in early Chinese medical writings. However, without the advanced technological equipment available today, tumors were commonly found only after they became large enough to palpate or cause pain. In modern China, Western techniques and Chinese medicine are often integrated when treating patients with cancer. Many cancer centers in the United States, such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, are now integrating acupuncture and other forms of Chinese medicine in their treatment programs.
Clinic research trials have determined acupuncture to be quite effective in relieving many of the symptoms related to cancer and the therapies used in its treatment. Some of the benefits cancer patients may experience include alleviation of symptoms such as pain and swelling, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, hot flashes, stress-induced symptoms, dry mouth, neuropathy, and urinary difficulties. Acupuncture may also help increase blood cell counts, reduce effects of toxicity, promote healing, facilitate bodily functions and improve immunity. Patients who receive acupuncture often are able to better tolerate chemotherapy and radiation.
Often oncology patients have distinctive issues which must be addressed. Of particular significance is decreased immune function, leading to an increased susceptibility to disease. Many acupuncture clinics are not optimal for individuals undergoing cancer therapy. Group-style community clinics as well as acupuncture-training clinics provide less expensive treatments, which may be advantageous for treatment of pain and other ailments. However, they frequently contain sick, potentially-contagious individuals harboring infections which may spread to the immuno-compromised cancer patient. These clinics are not equipped to specifically address the unique needs of an individual undergoing cancer treatment.
Special protocols and procedures may be necessary when treating cancer patients, especially those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. Issues that should be monitored include lymphedema, low blood counts, increased sensitivity, and medication/herb interactions. A cooperative approach between the oncologist and acupuncturist may be required in such patients. Many acupuncturists do not have the training needed to accommodate these and other important needs of the oncology patient. It is best to seek an acupuncturist with special training and/or certification in working with cancer patients
At Desert Sands Acupuncture Clinic for Cancer Care, my practice is focused on individuals with cancer and other malignancies, although I also treat many other conditions as well. My certification in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), additional training in using TCM for patients with cancer, and my Western medical background allow me to use an integrative approach in working with individuals and their physicians to obtain the optimal treatment.
My use of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) complements mainstream medical care and addresses the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of patients and families. I select from a variety of TCM treatment procedures as needed depending on the type of cancer, internal strength, symptoms, and other treatments the patient is receiving. In addition to acupuncture, I often employ multiple strategies to facilitate cancer control and improve the quality of life. The treatment may include Tui Na (Chinese massage), moxibustion (use of external warming herbs), Chinese Herbs, dietary suggestions, and Qi Gong (gentle therapeutic exercises). Complementary therapies are not substitutes for mainstream medical care but are used together with medical treatments to help patients alleviate stress, reduce pain and anxiety, manage symptoms, and promote a feeling of well-being.
I generally customized treatments to each patient's particular symptoms. A typical acupuncture session, which takes about 30 minutes, involves the insertion of ten to 20 very thin, stainless steel needles. Most patients receiving acupuncture experience no pain from the insertion of the needles, and there is minimal risk of injury from acupuncture treatments, with reports of fewer than one adverse event in more than 10,000 treatments.
If you choose to use standard cancer treatment regimens, I can work together with you and your oncologist to integrate TCM into your treatment plan. For individuals who are unable to tolerate or choose not to use standard cancer treatments, TCM is a key choice to include in the alternative plan. Integrating TCM into the cancer management strategy may significantly increase the ability of patients to tolerate the side effects of Western drugs, radiation, and chemotherapy. TCM may also improve quality of life, extend the period of survival, and improve the likelihood of recovery.