Acupuncture and Chemotherapy side effects

One in nine women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Cancerous cell formation occurs in the breast tissue. These cancerous cells can be malignant or benign where nearby tissues/body parts are affected or not, respectively.

In recent years, there have been many advances within conventional medicine in the treatment of breast cancer with increasing positive results. There are many different types of treatment available for patients with breast cancer. Common treatments include surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy. The focus of all these treatments are to ultimately destroy the cancer cells and prevent them from returning or at best slow down the cancers development to give extended and better quality life.

These treatments are unfortunately rather dramatic and in most instances lead to side effects which may include, and not limited to the more common feelings of nausea, vomiting, lethargy, hot flushes, fatigue, dizziness, a “not with it” feeling.

There have been many positive studies that illustrate the benefits of acupuncture in conjunction with chemotherapy. A more recent study carried out by researchers in America revealed that acupuncture was said to give women undergoing cancer treatment decreases in hot flushes, as well as reduced depressive symptoms and an overall sense of improved well being. The study also highlighted that acupuncture treatment proved to be longer lasting than drug therapy used in vasomotor symptoms.

One perspective is that acupuncture works through regulating and harmonising the bodies nervous and hormonal system. The results to date have identified a reduction in side effects. It is therefore worthy of consideration as an additional parallel therapy.


Int J Womens Health. 2010 Sep 28;2:319-25.

Quality of life of breast cancer patients medicated with anti-estrogens, 2 years after acupuncture treatment: a qualitative study.

Hervik J, Mjåland O.

Side effects due to anti-estrogen treatment seriously affect the quality of life of breast cancer operated patients. Patients who had previously been treated with traditional Chinese acupuncture complained less of hot flashes, and had a more positive outlook on life, than women who had previously been treated with sham acupuncture.
J Altern Complement Med.2010 Oct;16(10):1047-57.

Using traditional acupuncture for breast cancer-related hot flashes and night sweats.

de Valois BA, Young TE, Robinson N, McCourt C, Maher EJ.

 These results compare favorably with other studies using acupuncture to manage HF&NS, as well as research on nonhormonal pharmaceutical treatments. In addition to reduced HF&NS frequency, women enjoyed improved physical and emotional well-being, and few side-effects were reported. Further research is warranted into this approach, which offers breast cancer survivors choice in managing a chronic condition.
Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):158-67.
Acupuncture as palliative therapy for physical symptoms and quality of life for advanced cancer patients.

Dean-Clower E, Doherty-Gilman AM, Keshaviah A, Baker F, Kaw C, Lu W, Manola J, Penson RT, Matulonis UA, Rosenthal DS.

This pilot study demonstrates that an 8-week outpatient acupuncture course is feasible for advanced cancer patients and produces a measurable benefit that should be evaluated in controlled trials.
J Clin Oncol. 2010 Mar 1;28(7):1154-60. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Randomized, blinded, sham-controlled trial of acupuncture for the management of aromatase inhibitor-associated joint symptoms in women with early-stage breast cancer.

Crew KD, Capodice JL, Greenlee H, Brafman L, Fuentes D, Awad D, Yann Tsai W, Hershman DL.

Women with AI-induced arthralgias treated with Traditioal acupuncture had significant improvement of joint pain and stiffness, which was not seen with sham acupuncture. Acupuncture is an effective and well-tolerated strategy for managing this common treatment-related side effect.