Docs: Acupuncture Good For Cancer Patients

Docs: Acupuncture Good For Cancer Patients
August 6, 2007

BALTIMORE -- The ancient practice of acupuncture has been helping people with a variety of medical problems for thousands of years, and some modern studies have shown it can be helpful to people who suffer from nausea.

For women having chemotherapy after breast cancer, acupuncture may be one more weapon in the arsenal.

Kara Brandenburg was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2006. She said she had a bilateral mastectomy and seven months of chemotherapy, which was tough on her.

She said she was in the hospital when she read about the benefits of acupuncture.

"I thought, 'I'm going to try that.' It can't hurt, and with all the medications I'm taking, I thought I wanted try something that wasn't another medication," Brandenburg said.

Acupuncturist Rose Truby-Scharff said she has seen many cancer patients that have been helped by the practice.

"Sometimes, there's so much happening to the body with chemo -- so many drugs -- and (acupuncture) can help to detox the body so it has a little less to process and take on," she said.

Mercy Medical Center Oncologist Dr. David Riseberg said even though there are anti-nausea medications, sometimes they're not enough.

"There are a lot of women who feel empowered to do something for themselves. It doesn't have side effects, and it can be very helpful," he said.

For Brandenburg, she said she not only felt empowered, but the procedure also helped with nausea, hot flashes and stress.

"It's soothing, and it made me feel able to cope and handle all the treatment options that were coming my way, and that's really important," she said.

Part of the stress for cancer patients is financial. So having acupuncture or a massage can seem like a luxury, doctors said.

The Red Devils is a group dedicated to helping breast cancer patients pay for those types of procedures and other things, such as co-pays, that can add up. For more information on the Red Devils, click here.
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