Acupuncture Relief & Cancer
In 2010, 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but there is some good news: the disease’s death rate is steadily declining. That’s largely due to modern treatments, but they often come with intense side effects.
Quintell Williams is getting ready for what may just be the most relaxing part of her day. Believe it or not, it’s being poked with a dozen or so acupuncture needles.
Quintell is a two time breast cancer survivor. She’s gone through a mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiation. But what’s really hurting her now is a side effect of her breast cancer medicine.
“There’s joint pain. Sometimes you feel like your joints are on fire actually, you know. That’s the basic side effect that I would feel more than anything,” said Quintell.
Even though these drugs can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurring by almost 50 percent, the joint pain and stiffness cane be so severe.
“That a lot more women are stopping their medication than we originally realized and adherence is a big problem, which is unfortunate for a medication that works so well,” said Dr. Dawn Hershman, of New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center.
But rather than add yet another drug like a painkiller, Dr. Hershman decided to see if acupuncture might help. Quintell volunteered for a study where half the women got acupuncture for their pain, and the other half got the acupuncture needles placed in a sham or fake way.
“To get your desired treatment effect you have to hit certain acupuncture points with the acupuncture needle and that is real acupuncture,” said acupuncturist Jillian Chapodice.
“There was about a 50 percent reduction in pain and stiffness in women that have gotten true acupuncture compared to the women that had gotten sham acupuncture, or fake acupuncture,” added Dr. Hershman.
Quintell was in the group that got real acupuncture and real pain relief.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say maybe a 3. It had been a 10 because it was very painful,” said Quintell.
NEW YORK (CBS)