Acupuncture is used to treat pain and some other symptoms of cancer as well as the side effects of cancer treatment.
Western medical acupuncture is a modern interpretation of acupuncture based on scientific research. Treatments are given following a medical diagnosis. They can be used alongside conventional cancer treatments such as cancer drugs or radiotherapy.
How acupuncture works
Ancient theories of Chinese medicine suggest that a vital force or energy called Qi flows through the body along channels called meridians. Acupuncture alters this flow to restore or optimise good health.
Medical research shows that acupuncture works by stimulating nerves. This releases substances that can reduce cancer symptoms.
Acupuncture releases endorphins in the spinal cord and brain which relieves pain. Serotonin is also released by acupuncture. Serotonin is a pain reliever which can promote a feeling of wellbeing.
Why people with cancer use Acupuncture
One of the main reasons people with cancer have acupuncture is to relieve sickness caused by chemotherapy or other cancer drugs.
Acupuncture is available in most hospitals, hospices and clinics. People are often referred because they have pain or other symptoms such as:
tiredness and weakness (fatigue)
a dry mouth
hot flushes due to anti cancer treatments
Some people also say that acupuncture helps them feel relaxed and improves their feeling of wellbeing.
Research into acupuncture for cancer
There is no evidence to show that acupuncture can help treat or cure cancer. But, research suggests that it can help relieve some cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects.
Research to date into acupuncture for cancer focuses on treating chemotherapy related sickness, tiredness and pain. Most studies show that acupuncture is better than no treatment at all.
Thank you to Cancer research UK