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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Acupuncture Cuts Ails of Breast Cancer Drugs

Acupuncture Reduces Side Effects From Tamoxifen, Arimidex


"Acupuncture is a way to help regulate the body and enhance what it would normally do," she says. "If you are taking a medication to alter a condition, acupuncture is not going to override that. It is going to support the system to help it better handle that treatment."

Walker says that most major cancer centers now have integrative medicine departments that offer acupuncture.

"Obviously people are recognizing the benefit," Walker says. "Women need to talk to their insurance companies and push them to cover the cost -- to say, 'Look, here is a viable treatment that is less expensive than drug therapy.' And they need to tell their doctors they want this type of treatment."

Acupuncture and Sexual Function

Most women suffering hot flashes aren't taking breast cancer drugs -- they're undergoing menopause. Acupuncture can help these women too, Walker and Konefal say.

"What we are looking for is for women undergoing menopause to feel vital and healthy and to go through what would be difficult with a lot more ease," Konefal says.

And improved sexual function is part of this restored vitality.

"Acupuncture can help women with this," Konefal says. "It can increase blood flow to an area of the body. One thing acupuncture now is used for is fertility. When women get in vitro insemination, they can get acupuncture before and after to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries and increase their chances of a normal pregnancy."

Men, too, can improve their sexual function with acupuncture treatment. Walker says acupuncture can ease the side effects of chemical castration -- androgen-deprivation therapy -- in men treated for prostate cancer.

Walker is presenting her findings in a presentation to the 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, held Sept. 21-25, in Boston.

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