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Emily Konstan

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Clovis Padhila Jr.

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ACUPUNCTURE for Individuals in Cancer Treatment

Information provided courtesy of Emily Konstan, Licensed Acupuncturist of Down to Earth Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be a safe and effective complimentary treatment for individuals undergoing breast cancer treatment. While acupuncture does not in itself treat cancer, it has been studied for reducing the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and cancer medication.

Emily Konstan of Down to Earth Acupuncture

In addition to its many traditional uses, studies have found acupuncture to be beneficial for treating:

  • Hot flashes, night sweats, and dry mouth 
  • Depression, anxiety, and insomnia
  • Joint pain/stiffness and neuropathy
  • Physical and emotional fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, and diarrhea

Acupuncture can also:

  • Boost immune function, increase blood count in cases of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia or leukopenia, and enhance white blood cell activity
  • Improve overall quality of life and mental well being

In the hands of a trained practitioner, acupuncture has very few side effects (bruising and slight bleeding are the most common) and is incredibly safe compared to many other medical treatments.  Most acupuncturists use only single-use, disposable needles, which leads to a very low chance of infection.

You should make sure that your acupuncturist is aware of your medical history and what treatments you are undergoing. While bleeding is usually minor, you should let your acupuncturist know if you are on anti-coagulant therapy or have a low platelet count. Generally, if your platelets are below 20,000 per microliter, it is best to wait until they rebound before starting acupuncture.

If you have had lymph nodes removed, standard practice is to avoid acupuncture needles on that limb. This helps to prevent the risk of infection or lymphedema. However, it is interesting to note that at least one study found that acupuncture treatment actually improved lymphedema symptoms in some patients.

Acupuncture for Stress Reduction

Acupuncture does not take the place of Western medical care. It is important that you continue to make informed medical decisions in conjunction with your physician.

Acupuncture works best when it is done consistently over time. Since the cost of private acupuncture treatments can be prohibitive, I recommend that you seek out a community acupuncture clinic near you. You can find a list here




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