Over the years, cancer has gradually earned the notorious reputation of being one of the leading causes of death throughout the world. Extensive medical studies have been done for decades that have led to the creation of various cancer treatments. But despite the availability of these treatments, it is interesting to see that acupuncture, a four-thousand year old alternative therapy has emerged to be a very popular treatment for the management of cancer symptoms for many individuals stricken with this dreaded disease.
The Nature of Cancer
Cancer is a form of disease that is mainly marked by atypical cell division and growth. Its classification is based on the type of cell that initially wreaks damage to a body organ. Currently, doctors have diagnosed over a hundred forms of cancer with the most common being renal cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, leukemia, breast, bladder, lung, rectal, colon and endometrial cancer.
When cancer cells start to divide in an uncontrolled manner, the disease turns into a deadly condition. These cells start to form lumps or masses known as tumors. As these masses grow and get bigger, they begin to adversely impact the functions of the major organ systems of the body namely the nervous, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems.
There are several symptoms of cancer although they vary according to the body part where the cancer grows. Some of the most common cancer symptoms include unexplained loss of weight, excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), anemia, fever and fatigue. Symptoms such as vertigo, seizures, and headaches may be experienced when the cancer spreads to the brain. Patients may suffer from coughing and shortness of breath when their cancer starts to affect the lungs. Painful and brittle bones as well as jaundice may be suffered by the patient when his/her liver is affected by the cancer.
Treatments for Cancer
In spite of the many decades of medical research into the nature of cancer, Western medicine has a very poor track record in treating this disease. This is reflected in the growing rate of cancer deaths each year. The fact is cancer and cardiovascular disease have been jostling for the notorious claim of being the number one killer in the world each year. Western medicine does a very poor job when it comes to cancer treatment and in fact, some of the therapies it uses contribute in a big way to the rate of fatalities related to cancer. These include cancer drugs and therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This is the reason why so many people want to approach cancer in a more natural manner. They address cancer by changing their lifestyle and diet that make it easier to manage and control their condition.
The state of health of the patient, the kind of cancer he/she suffers from, as well as the stage of his/her cancer are determinants for the type of treatment the patient will get. Apart from the aforementioned therapies of drugs, chemo and radiation therapy, other cancer treatments include immunotherapy, gene therapy and hormone therapy.
While most cancer patients are forced to opt for conventional treatments for their condition, some patients are willing to try non-traditional and alternative treatments. Acupuncture is slowly being looked at as a way to help cancer patients cope with the pain, symptoms and side effects of the disease as well as the cancer drugs these patients are forced to use for treatment of their condition.
How does Acupuncture Help Cancer Patients?
Acupuncture is recommended as a form of treatment for the management of cancer symptoms by a growing number of doctors and oncologists. Studies have proven that acupuncture can stop cancer-related conditions of hot flushes, painful and dry throat and mouth, vomiting, nausea and pain.
Acupuncture is also effective in alleviating or reducing the magnitude of the side effects of cancer treatments including inflammation, swelling and pain that in turn, leads to a lesser intake of pain medications. When the muscles and sensory neurons are stimulated, they transmit signals to the central nervous system causing the production and release of neurotransmitters that serve to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Chemotherapy produces very serious side effects that many doctors observe usually do more harm than good. Some of the side effects of this “treatment” include hot flushes, nausea and vomiting especially in breast cancer patients. To help reduce the intensity and frequency of the hot flushes, vomiting and nausea, women with breast cancer should consider receiving acupuncture treatment.
For painful and dry mouth and throat that can be expected with cancer treatments, acupuncture may be able to decrease the severity of these side effects enabling the patient to drink, eat and swallow without difficulty. Acupuncture can also help treat and relieve other symptoms related to cancer including depression, fatigue, anxiety, appetite loss, cough, diarrhea, loss of weight, dizziness, bone pain, and chest pain.
In lessening the frequency and magnitude of these symptoms, acupuncture can provide cancer patients the means to get some high quality sleep which goes a long way in the improvement of the quality of life of these suffering individuals.
Acupuncture Treatment – Some Feedback from Cancer Patients
No proof exists that shows acupuncture’s ability to cure or treat cancer. This treatment is mainly used to help relieve the many symptoms attributed to cancer.
There are patients who have stated that acupuncture has helped them get over their nausea caused by chemotherapy. Some patients have seen their hot flushes decrease in severity and frequency after being treated with acupuncture. And other patients aver that acupuncture has indeed made them a bit healthier in spite of their faltering condition.