The CVRC Oncology Department believes in the benefits of complementary medicine and has embraced the use of acupuncture in oncology patients.
Acupuncture is performed by inserting fine, sterile needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific locations called points. Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system and triggers the release of neural hormones such as beta-endorphins, a natural pain suppressor. The process can also reduce pro-inflammatory proteins in the body which helps to decrease inflammation and improve immunity. Acupuncture has been in use for more than 5,000 years.
While acupuncture cannot treat a cancer diagnosis, it can help relieve many of the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments. Acupuncture for cancer therapy can offer a number of benefits:
- Helps with pain management
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves immune function
- Lessens or eliminates chemotherapy-related gastrointestinal discomfort (vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia)
- Alleviates xerostomia (dry mouth) related to radiation therapy
- Offers a sense of relaxation and an improvement in sleep
Acupuncture is best used for pets with cancer as a complementary treatment. It won’t cure or treat cancer itself but can be used to improve quality of life when used in conjunction with other therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy.
- Acupuncture has been shown to improve gastrointestinal discomfort with reduced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when administered 2 hours prior to chemotherapy.
- It can reduce the severity of neutropenia (decreased immune function) when used 1-2 times weekly following chemotherapy.
- It can improve pain and discomfort related to cancer (i.e. bone tumors) or treatments (i.e. gastrointestinal discomfort associated with chemotherapy).
While not painful, some discomfort can be experienced if a sensitive area is stimulated. The needles are very small and most pets do not react to them. Pets may choose to walk around during the session or lay down and relax. Acupuncture is actually very relaxing and many pets will fall asleep during the treatments. The needles typically stay in for approximately 15 minutes.
Please let us know if you are interested in more information on this treatment for your pet.