Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month according to the NCCAM, which is part of the National Institute of Health in the states.  Awareness for different types of cancer primarily focuses on raising money for finding a cure.  This post will cover more complementary therapies and how they can help people cope with the side effects of cancer treatment both physical and emotional.  The site breastcancer.org covers several types of alternative therapies which can be used in conjunction with standard medical treatment. 

Acupuncture has been shown in some studies to help with various symptoms related to cancer treatment such as fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depression, hot flashes and insomnia.  With regards to breast cancer and acupuncture a recent study has reported that acupuncture has some benefit for relieving vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes in women receiving antiestrogen treatment.  In addition to relieving the hot flashes participants reported increased libido, improved mental clarity and energy.  Another study found that joint pain and stiffness, which is a side-effect of aromatase inhibitor therapy for breast cancer can be improved with acupuncture treatment.  The National Cancer Institute provides a summary of acupuncture, results of studies using acupuncture as a modality for various types of cancer, including breast cancer

Traditional Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, qi gong and meditation is discussed in a three part series.  Part one discusses herbal therapy in the prevention of breast cysts, while part two has a special focus on pre and post operative acupuncture, post operative herbal perscriptions and radiation.  Part three discusses acupuncture and herbal remedies to manage side-effects of conventional treatment such as nausea and vomiting, depressed immune function and peripheral neuropathy.

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