02 June 2008

Acupuncture eases cancer pain

Acupuncture provides significant pain relief for patients after head or neck cancer surgery, according to a clinical study recently released.

Acupuncture provides significant pain relief for patients after head or neck cancer surgery, according to a clinical study released at the annual meeting here of the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

A traditional Chinese medical technique, acupuncture was also found to improve shoulder mobility that is often restricted after surgical cancer procedures involving the mouth, nose, upper throat, sinuses and other throat and nose passages, researchers said.

Seventy patients took part in a random study by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) researchers, in New York, at least three months after they underwent cancer surgery and radiation treatment.

How the study was done
One half received acupuncture, the rest the usual care, which includes physical therapy exercises and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Of the patients who received four acupuncture sessions over four weeks, 39 percent reported less pain and greater mobility, compared to only seven percent of the group that received usual care.

"Like any other treatment, acupuncture does not work for everyone, but it can be extraordinarily helpful for many," said study co-author Dr Barrie Cassileth, Chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at MSKCC. "It does not treat illness, but acupuncture can control a number of distressing symptoms, such as shortness of breath, anxiety and depression, chronic fatigue, pain, neuropathy, and osteoarthritis," she added.

Acupuncture originated more than 2 000 years ago. Treatment involves stimulation of one or more predetermined points on the body with needles, heat, pressure, or electricity for therapeutic effect.

A report published by the Centres for Disease Control indicated that more than eight million Americans use acupuncture to treat different ailments. – (Sapa, June 2008)

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