Tumor, acupuncture to relieve symptoms of chemotherapy and hormone therapy

Acupuncture is one of the gentle therapies that can make cancer therapy more sustainable, relieving symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, but also hot flashes and pain.

Maria Elena Perrero

Acupuncture alongside cancer therapy: this ancient technique of traditional Chinese medicine is showing its beneficial effects also in countering the side effects of cancer therapies, from the chemotherapy at the radiotherapy, passing through the hormone therapy administered in the case of hormone-sensitive tumors such as breast, ovarian and endometrial tumors. Its benefits are enumerated a Official Active by Dr. Stefano Magno, breast surgeon of the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, in charge of the Komen Italia Center for integrated treatments in oncology of the A. Gemelli IRCCS University Polyclinic Foundation.

Acupuncture in cancer therapy

First of all, a mandatory clarification: “Theacupuncture it is not an alternative medicine, it does not cure the disease, in the case of cancer as in no other case, but i care symptoms, including pain – explains Dr. Magno -. That said, it is useful for not only relieving arthralgia, insomnia, stress, but also symptoms more closely related to oncological therapies such as nausea and vomit, peripheral neuropathies (i.e. pain of nerve endings) e hot flashes“. Contrary to what one might think, the needles do not penetrate deeply. “They have to stay under the skin for about twenty minutes. It is clear that the subcutaneous panniculus varies from person to person. It will therefore be up to the sensitivity and experience of the acupuncturist understand how far to penetrate the needles. Patient feedback is also fundamental: the presence of the needle must be felt but pain must not be felt. I remember that in Italy only doctors can practice acupuncture. This is not the case everywhere: in the United States, for example, it is not necessary to be a doctor ”.

The other benefits of acupuncture

But theacupuncture it is not only used against the side effects of oncological therapies. “Its effectiveness is proven in the case of low back pain, or pain in the lower back – explains Dr. Magno -. In the United States it is recommended in selected cases even before drug treatment. Many chronic pains they benefit from acoputure “. But be careful not to fall into the error of considering acupuncture the treatment of the disease. “If, for example, low back pain is caused by a hernia, acupuncture only relieves the pain that the hernia causes, but does not make the hernia go back. In general theacupuncture treats the symptom, not the disease. Even in oncology it would be criminal to think of being able to treat a tumor with acupuncture. This integrated therapy it serves to treat ailments related to the disease, not to cure the disease itself. The cause of the pain must always be known: first of all a diagnosis must be made, possibly causal. Once anatomical or correctable causes have been excluded with surgery, drugs or physiotherapy, then acupuncture can be of help, also for its advantages in terms of safety and no interaction with other therapiessince it is a medicine that is not based on biochemical mechanisms, since the needles are inert, devoid of active ingredients “.

Acupuncture and cancer treatment

This is precisely one of the advantages of acupuncture in helping the cancer patient. “It is especially an advantage in the case of patients who follow polypharmacological treatments. In fact, there is no interaction, ”the surgeon emphasizes. But this is not the only advantage ofacupuncture. “Relieving ailments and side effects of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy, acupuncture allows the patient to continue the drug treatment, improving adherence to the actual therapy, which is the one that cures the disease and saves life. We are therefore not talking about cancer treatment, it is good to reiterate it, but about integrated treatment“.

Tumors, not just acupuncture: integrated oncology

A treatment that is part of a integrated oncology who, as Dr. Magno points out, sees the patient as a person, therefore not only considering the tumor mass to be treated, but also all the problems related to that tumor mass, which may be the cause or consequence of it. “It is very important to think in terms of integrated, holistic medicine. Patients must be treated as people, not just the disease, whether it is oncological or not. Acupuncture is part of an area, that of integrated oncology, which sees the usefulness of other practices such as mindfulness meditation, there reflexology, L’auriculotherapy (i.e. ear stimulation with tiny needles or seeds). These are all ‘sweet’ practices characterized by the absence or almost no side effects which, although they do not directly cure the disease, help patients to get better. And to be more motivated in the fight against the disease ”.

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