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Acupuncture was first described in ancient Chinese textbooks about 100 BCE.  It is quite literally one of the oldest medical practices, and it is an important part of integrative oncology.


What does Acupuncture do for you?

There are over 400 acupuncture points, also called acupoints, on the body.  There are numerous different types of acupuncture, including auricular, scalp, laser and electroacupuncture. 


Acupuncture exerts its effects locally by increasing circulation and releasing endorphins.  We also know from functional MRI studies that acupuncture has specific effects in the brain, such as the release of serotonin, dopamine and substance P, an important neurotransmitter for pain.  On MRI, the stimulation of acupoints “lights up” specific regions in
the brain, depending on what we are trying to achieve.


In 2022, the Society of Integrative Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology collaborated and published a joint practice guideline pertaining to integrative medicine for pain management.  This guideline endorsed the use of acupuncture for the treatment of chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, aromatase inhibitor induced arthralgia, and general cancer related pain.


In addition to the above side effects, there is research suggesting that acupuncture can also be used to treat:

            -xerostomia (dry mouth) as a result of radiation for head and neck cancer;


            -hot flashes;


            -cancer related fatigue;


            -overall quality of life.


Acupuncture is considered a very safe treatment and the risk of infection and bleeding is very low.  It is a desirable integrative therapy because it can be used concurrent with chemotherapy and radiation treatments to help manage side effects without the risk of interfering with these treatments.  Most patients report a relaxing experience with very few adverse effects.

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