The Role of Acupuncture in Cancer Treatment

Cancer isnot a single ailment, but a host of malignancies which strike individuals in unique ways and need to be treated with the help of numerous modalities like surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, nutrition therapy, hormone therapy, physical therapy and psychological care.

Solid tumors can be treated successfully with surgery and the usual therapies, if detected early. Other cancers like leukemia in children and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma may need to be treated with the help of chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, or a combination of these.

In case of late diagnosesor recurrence, the chances of recovery are very low. Terminal cancer patients need palliative treatment to improve their quality of life. Acupuncture can also play an important role in cancer care.

 

How acupuncture can help

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical treatment which has spread to many parts of the world and is widely accepted as a part of alternative medicine. Acupuncture involves stimulation of acupunctural points on the skin with the help of very thin metal needles. This is done by electrical stimulation or the acupuncturist may manipulate the needles manually.

 

Helps with side effects of cancer treatment

Acupuncture can prove to be of great help for pain management, speeding up recovery from cancer, as well as alleviating side effects of cancer treatment such as nausea and constipation. It also improves the patient’s sense of overall well-being.

Improves pain bearing capacity

Acupuncture believes that a chronic ailment can rob the body of its energy. This loss of energy makes the pain associated with cancer more severe for the patient. Tonification, an acupuncture process, helps restore energy levels and improve the pain-bearing capacity of the patient. Acupuncturists achieve this with the help of whole body energetic acupuncture support, osteo-puncture and percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.

Alleviates pain

Pain related to cancer and its treatments has been the cause of concern for cancer care providers for a long time now as it affects the quality of life in a negative way. Acupuncture can help alleviate pain and thus improve the quality of life of a cancer patient. Cancer pain can range from shoulder pain to knee pain to even dental pain, all of which can be controlled with the help of acupuncture. Moreover, as pain-management with the help of acupuncture does not involve any medication, it finds more favor with patients who are already having a lot of medicines for their treatment.

Boost immune system

Energetic acupuncture, when applied with nutritional support, can boost the immune system of patients. Combined with nutrition and supplements, it brings positive results in cancer patients, helping minimize the suppression of white blood cells caused by chemotherapeutic drugs.

Removes energy blockages

Energetic acupuncture not only helps replenish the energy but also remove blockages in energy flow and evens out the distribution of energy in the body. This can help treat cancer-affected organs like liver, kidney or pancreas.

Improves psychological well-being

Acupuncture is finding growing acceptance in treatment of symptoms of cancer and side-effects of cancer treatment. Many cancer treatment centers and research centers in the US are making use of acupuncture as a complementary therapy for cancer care. Though there is a lot more research needed to prove the usefulness of acupuncture in cancer care, there are many individuals as well as medical professionals who are willing to give it a try.

Acupuncture is helpful for cancer related fatigue, radiation related xerostomia(dry mouth)and chemotherapy induced neutropenia. It can also help improve sleep quality as well as control anxiety and depression. Breast cancer patients find relief from hot flashes with the help of acupuncture.

Research is the key to developing advanced cancer treatment and events such as Tough Mudder Yorkshire contribute by raising awareness and funding. Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa and elsewhere encourage people to be part of such events which fund cancer research and treatment.

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Helpful Tips for Participating in Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is a research study that looks closely at the effects of a treatment on human volunteers in order to observe the effects of a specific treatment. A carefully conducted clinical trial will be the fastest and safest way to make sure that a treatment works correctly for people, as well as discover ways to improve health.

There are many different types of clinical trials, including those to study options for prevention, new screening techniques, new treatments or other options for improving quality of life for people with medical conditions. Clinical trials can help to determine whether a specific drug is safe and effective for people to use, or to compare existing treatments and determine which treatment is better.

Participating in clinical trials can be rewarding for a number of reasons. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have contributed to the advancement of medical knowledge. Your participation might help to develop a treatment or a cure that will help many people in the future. Joining in with a clinical trial can help to provide you with better treatments than you would otherwise have, as well as receiving compensation for your time too. It is possible to find clinical research trials in your area by contacting a company such as MAC Clinical Research Trials.

Before you decide to participate in a clinical trial, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure that you speak to your doctor before deciding to participate in a clinical trial. Your own physician knows you and your health condition well and they will be able to determine whether or not a clinical trial is right for you.
  • Use a website such as researchforyou.co.uk to find clinical trials in your area that you might be eligible for.
  • Make sure that you understand your own motivation for taking part in the trial, whether it is financial, wanting to help others or hoping that the treatment will work for you. There are many reasons to participate, so understanding your own reasons will help you to understand whether a particular trial is a smart match for you.
  • Keep in mind that no trial is completely risk free. Make sure that you read all of the fine print on the consent form and that you are comfortable with the potential risks of participating in the trial.
  • Take the time to understand the goals of the researchers. They are not necessarily trying to make you better, as a doctor would; they are trying to conduct a medical experiment. Keep this in mind when you are agreeing to tests and procedures.
  • Understand how participating in the trial will alter your health care. Will you receive the same treatment as you would otherwise get for the same health problem?
  • Consider both the potential benefits and the risks. On one hand, you might be subjecting yourself to negative side effects from the treatment you are testing. On the other hand, you might discover that the treatment in the trial has a beneficial effect on your health.
  • An experimental treatment that is provided as part of a trial should always be free, so you should not have to pay anything for participating in the experiment. In most cases, you might even be compensated for your time.
  • Watch out for conflicts of interest, such as when the researcher holds a patent on the experimental drug or stock in the company that manufactures it. This can affect the integrity of the study.
  • Get a second opinion from an independent medical professional, especially if the doctor who recommends you to the study is involved with it.
  • Make sure that you ask your doctor and the researchers a lot of questions. Find out how the trial is funded, how long it will last, how much time is needed, where the tests are located, etc.
  • Consider whether you will need to take time off work or other responsibilities to participate in the trial. Sometimes medical trials will involve you staying at the medical facility for observation for many days. Knowing this will help you to plan ahead for that time and make arrangements concerning your other responsibilities.

These are just a few important tips to consider when you are participating in a clinical trial. Taking part in one of these trials can be very advantageous, so make sure that you are well informed, ask the right questions and find the very best trial for your particular needs.

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Does Hormone Therapy Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk?

After a certain point of time, every woman stops getting periods- her ovaries stop producing eggs, as well as making the hormones progesterone and estrogen. This is called menopause. The process of menopause may take a few years, beginning with irregular periods and changes in hormonal levels. Menopause could also be because of surgical removal of ovaries or other reasons, like certain drugs, but that would be sudden and also temporary in some cases.

The symptoms of menopause occur because of a dip in estrogen levels. A woman may experience night sweats or sudden hot flashes. These symptoms decline after some time. Some other issues like vaginal dryness, bone thinning and vaginal tissues losing thickness can become worse as time passes by. The hormone estrogen is often used to treat these symptoms and problems.

In order to relieve these symptoms, women are either prescribed estrogen and progesterone or only estrogen. This is called hormone therapy, also known as HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or PHT (postmenopausal hormone therapy) or PMH (post menopausal hormones).

Hormone therapy not only relieves menopausal symptoms but is also believed to help with health issues like osteoporosis, which come up because of dipping estrogen levels.

 

Hormone therapy and cancer

There have been two important clinical trials conducted under the sponsorship of National Institutes of Health under the program Women’s Health Initiative or WHI. In these trials, two groups of women were studied- one group consisted of women who had their uterus intact and received either both the hormones or a placebo, while the other group had women who were without uterus and received either both hormones or a placebo. The trails were carried out to determine the benefits of hormone therapy.

These trials were stopped much before the stipulated time as specific health risks were discovered over some time. However, there have been long-term follow ups of these participants which offer more information about possible health benefits linked with MHT.

Some other studies in the past also pointed out that woman who took estrogen and progesterone were at a higher risk of breast cancer. This led to many women discontinuing the use of these hormones. Recently, however, the January issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention carried a report which says that the estrogen-progestin combination could actually help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. This report is based on follow-ups carried out with the participants of the WHI trials.

According to Jill R. Johnson, who is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and also one of the researchers who carried out this study, women who took estrogen and progestin had a reduced risk of colorectal cancer as against those women who never took the hormones. Additionally, the risk was reduced by as much as 45% in women who took these hormones for five years or more in the past. Current users of estrogen had a risk reduction of 25%. In fact, the slightest use of estrogen was linked to a 17% reduction in colorectal cancer risk.

 

The explanation behind reduced risk of colorectal cancer

Though this study did not investigate the biological process which determines how hormone therapy reduced colorectal cancer risk, Johnson suggests that there have been previous researches which point out that hormones can help reduce the risk by reducing the levels of growth factors that lead to colorectal cancer. Further studies might help find out the exact mechanism behind this.

 

Hormone therapy comes with its own benefits as well as health risks. Many studies have pointed out that the risks associated with MHT are more severe compared to the benefits derived from it, whereas there are studies which suggest that MHT is a reliable solution for many health problems, and maybe colorectal cancer also. It is still important to weigh the pros and cons and discuss all possible outcomes with your doctor before you reach any conclusion.

 

It is essential to learn about the mechanism that goes behind a cancer cell; this will help to search for better medical alternatives for different types of cancers, including colorectal cancer. Programs like the Cancer Cell Biology Program Meeting in Newnan contribute towards understanding more about understanding different types of cancers.

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