Chinese Medicine for Cancer Treatment Side Effects

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Two reviews released late last year reference Chinese medicine as a possible adjunctive therapy for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Lung cancer guidelines released by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) endorse massage and acupuncture as integrative therapies that can be used while patients are being treated with conventional Western medicine.  The ACCP states that massage can help relieve pain and anxiety.  The organization recommends acupuncture for:

·         Fatigue

·         Shortness of breath

·         Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy

·         Pain

·         Nausea and Vomiting

A separate analysis done by Cochrane Systematic Review shows preliminary evidence that Chinese herbal medicine may be helpful for women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.  The review looked at the safety and effectiveness of using Chinese herbal medicine to help protect women’s bone marrow and immune systems, and improve quality of life issues (such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue).

The World Health Organization also suggests acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced nausea.

It is important to recognize that these studies advocate acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine as supplements to standard Western medical care.  As with any serious illness, patients with cancer should undergo a complete assessment and develop a treatment plan with their primary care physician and appropriate oncology specialists.

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