Acupuncture And Cancer Cancer Treatment

When discussing acupuncture and cancer, the focus is on how acupuncture may help relieve the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment.

Research on Acupuncture Cancer Treatment

According to the National Cancer Institute (2011), the strongest research supporting the use of acupuncture for cancer involves reducing the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatment. Treating pain is one of the more widely accepted uses of acupuncture. Additionally, cancer pain may be diminished by acupuncture.

Research demonstrates that acupuncture may improve the functioning of the immune system, helping the body fight cancer. It can also reduce fatigue and hot flashes in women with breast cancer and in men with prostate cancer who are receiving therapy.

Acupuncture for cancer may reduce other cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Hiccups
  • Fluid in the arms or legs
  • Speech problems
  • Weight loss.

Pairing Acupuncture and Cancer

While the traditional Chinese medical view of acupuncture is that it improves the flow of energy in the body, helping the body heal itself, Western medicine focuses more on the possible physical responses to acupuncture. Responses in parts of the brain, the pituitary gland and nerve cells may cause the body to release brain chemicals, proteins and hormones that have a positive effect on the body.

If you want to use acupuncture for cancer treatment, find an acupuncturist with experience treating cancer patients who understands the dynamics of cancer and cancer treatments. An acupuncturist tailors treatment to each individual based on his overall physical, mental and emotional condition.

Acupuncture may not be appropriate if you have lymphedema, are pregnant or have a condition that makes you susceptible to infection or bleeding. Side effects are rare, although minor bleeding or bruising may occur where the needles are inserted. Discuss the potential benefits and risks of using acupuncture for cancer with your doctor and an acupuncturist.


American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Acupuncture. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from

National Cancer Institute. (2011). Questions and answers about acupuncture. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from

Mak, E. (n.d.). Acupuncture in cancer treatment. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from