Acupuncture Sticks It to Cancer Pain

Natural Health

By: Lara Endreszl
Friday, 22 August 2008

…The study Acupuncture Reduces Pain and Dysfunction in Head and Neck Cancer Patients after Neck Dissection done by Dr. David Pfister of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center picked 70 random patients to research over a period of four weeks. All the patients had been recovered from radiation and surgery for three months prior to the study. They were put into two groups: acupuncture and usual care (physical therapy and/or anti-inflammatory drugs). The acupuncture group had a 39 percent improvement in dry mouth, pain and movement dysfunction over the usual care group which had only a 7 percent improvement.

Even though the acupuncture group percentage is significantly higher, it seems that the major symptoms improved were dry mouth and dysfunction as well as general pain. While this is a great advancement in the CM world, the work isn’t over yet. Dr. Pfister comments, “Chronic pain and shoulder mobility problems are common after such surgery, adversely affecting quality of life as well as employability for certain occupations, unfortunately, available conventional methods of treatment for pain and dysfunction following neck surgery often have limited benefits, leaving much room for improvement.”

Dr. Cassileth, another doctor on the team at Sloane-Kettering, reminds readers that acupuncture doesn’t always work for everyone, but if a patient plans to go, make sure to go to a certified acupuncturist from a national agency or by one that specializes in specific cancer and cancer treatments.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) also recently reported in a study of over 4,000 survivors of ten different types of cancer, that acupuncture is being used as an alternative to pain medication. Co-author Ted Gansler of the ACS and CANCER peer journal reports, “Surprisingly, other methods such as acupuncture…were used by fewer than 2% of cancer survivors, even though recent studies found them to be useful in relieving some cancer-related symptoms, such as pain.” More…