Being diagnosed or having a loved one diagnosed with cancer is a huge shock. Adding to the shock are the many different varieties, locations, prognoses and treatments. And these can cause a significant amount of confusion as to how to handle it.

I want to be clear. We are not going to tell you we have ‘the answer’, as no one does. There are lots of ways to approach cancer, but none offer an absolute guarantee. So many people will tell you what you should do and what treatment you should have. But as frightening as this is, you are the one who has to deal with the outcomes of any decisions.

What we can tell you is this: We will do our very best to provide you with the latest information and support you through your journey regardless of the choices you make.

 

First of all What is Cancer?

Cancer is the replication of body cells that are abnormal. In some cases this can occur slowly and in others very rapidly. Depending on the location of the cells will vary how significant the impact is on the body and how it functions.

 

What are some symptoms of cancer?

Now the problem with answering this question is that some of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions that aren’t cancer. If you have concerns but don’t know for sure then it is important to seek medical advice. Try not to panic before you know of any test results as worrying will serve no positive purpose.

Some symptoms may include:

  • Weight-loss
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Unexplained bleeding from bowels, urine, cough, nose
  • Lumps or sites of swelling without injury
  • Changes to skin markings
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Change in urination
  • Infections or immune issues that won’t resolve
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

 

What are some known causes of cancer?

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Exposure to carcinogenic chemicals
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Obesity
  • Excessive skin exposure to UV rays
  • High processed meat, red meat and salted food consumption

 

Are there other elements that can cause cancer?

There is lots of debate on a wide variety of issues and there may be some research that suggests these elements aren’t issues and others that suggest they may be. These issues include:

  • Artificial sweeteners – while the research seems inconclusive the use of any chemicals naturally can run the risk of increased cell damage and as a result cell reproduction. This naturally increases the potential for abnormal cell growth and proliferation.
  • Dairy consumption – A recent Harvard study (1) of over 20,000 people suggested that a higher risk of prostate cancer existed with more than two serves of dairy per day. Again this is only one study but there is debate over the benefits of dairy and the potential risks of dairy consumption.
    Another study (2) found that  ‘for every 10 grams of lactose consumed (the amount in one glass of milk), ovarian cancer risk increased by 13 percent.’
  • Soy – Soy products contain isoflavones, which mimic the bodies own oestrogens. As a result this may have a contributing potential toward oestrogen type cancers such as breast and uterine cancers.
  • Sugar – research to date is inconclusive as to whether high sugar intake increases risk of cancer. However cancer is seen as a condition aggravated by inflammation as during inflammation cells are destroyed leading to an increase in cell replication. Sugar is known to increase inflammation in the body. Inflammation is largely the issue with most disease states so sugar intake is considered a major contributing factor in all disease states.

 

What are the most common types of cancer?

  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Skin cancer/ melanoma
  • Bowel cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cervical cancer

 

What’s the good news about cancer?

While many people consider cancer as a death sentence survival rates are continuing to increase. In 2017 the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (3) found that survival rates had increased by 20%.

 

How does Chinese medicine view cancer?

Before we get to that it’s important to state that Chinese medicine is incredibly old. The first known text was written over 2000 years ago and evidence of it’s practice exists from over 4000 years ago. As a result it is important to recognise that the language used may seem strange in todays terminology. Chinese medicine pre-dates western science. Some consider Chinese medicine to be mythical and unscientific because it uses terminology like ‘qi’ which has been translated as ‘life breath’. However the current understanding of Chinese medicine is that it has the ability to influence neural transmission via the nervous system and hormone regulation via the hypothalamus, the control centre of the endocrine system. Both the nervous system and the endocrine system control most functions in the body. So whilst it is old and uses strange language Chinese medicine can be a powerful tool in the quest toward improving disease states within the body.

Chinese medicine views cancer as ‘stagnation’ which translates as an area in the body that has a mass resulting in the incorrect function of that area or the organ in that area. The aim of Chinese medicine is to regulate function just like the role of the endocrine and nervous systems. By improving appropriate circulation and removing stagnation the aim is to restore function and bring the body back to homeostasis, a western scientific term for balance.

 

What does the research say about Chinese medicine, cancer and side effects of cancer treatment?

It is important to note here that Chinese medicine and acupuncture do not ‘treat’ cancer. The approach of Chinese medicine is to treat the body to restore function. The aim is by focusing on underlying causative factors and improving symptoms associated with a disease we restore the balance and health of the body

  • Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting
    Another study (4) found acupuncture to be appropriate for chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting.
  • Cancer pain
    A meta-analysis and systematic review (5) found acupuncture to be a useful adjunct with other modalities in the management of pain.
    Another systematic review (6) suggests acupuncture and medication may be superior to medication alone in the management of cancer related pain.
    Read more about acupuncture and pain relief.
  • Depression/ anxiety
    A side issue that can naturally occur with a diagnosis and the treatment of cancer can be emotional disturbances such as a sense of hopelessness, depression and anxiety.
    A systematic review in 2014 (7) while inconclusive suggests potential benefits for depression, insomnia and anxiety when using acupuncture.
    2 further studies (8,9) show promising response when using acupuncture in assisting with symptoms associated with depression in conjunction with other therapies
  • Post operative nausea and vomiting
    A systematic review of 30 Randomised Control Trials (10) showed acupuncture and acupressure reduced frequency of post- operative nausea and vomiting for upto 24 hours
  • Post operative pain
    A systematic review of randomised control trials in 2016 (11) found acupuncture may be effective in relieving surgery induced pain.
    Another systematic review (12) showed a reduction in opioid use when electro-acupuncture or ear acupuncture was applied.
    Check out our detailed article on pain relief.
  • Cancer related fatigue
    A series of systematic reviews (12-17) suggest Acupuncture may be effective in assisting with fatigue associated with cancer.
  • Cancer related insomnia
    A systematic review of 6 randomised control trials suggest acupuncture may assist with insomnia associated with cancer. Several studies (18-20) show the superior effect of acupuncture over conventional medication for
  • Hot flushes in Breast cancer
    Several systematic reviews (21-23, 11) suggest acupuncture may have potential benefit in assisting with hot flushes with breast cancer and severity of menopausal related symptoms.

So there are a number of areas we can help you with to improve you or your loved ones  journey with cancer.

For more information about cancer Newcastle and how we may assist you feel free to contact us or you can also book online.

 

References

  1. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Gann PH, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;74:549-554.
  2. Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A. Milk, milk products and lactose intake and ovarian cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Int J Cancer. 2006;118(2):431-441.
  3. Cancer in Australia 2017 report, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  4. Garcia MK, McQuade J, Lee R, Haddad R, Spano M, Cohen L. Acupuncture for symptom management in cancer care: an update. Curr Oncol Rep. 2014 Dec;16(12):418.
  5. Chiu HY, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS. Systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2016 Feb 7.
  6. Hu C, Zhang H, Wu W, Yu W, Li Y, Bai J, et al. Acupuncture for Pain Management in Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:1720239.
  7. Haddad NE, Palesh O. Acupuncture in the treatment of cancer-related psychological symptoms. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 Sep;13(5):371-85.
  8. Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S. Schizophrenia and Depression: A systematic Review of the Effectiveness and the Working Mechanisms Behind Acupuncture. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):281-91.
  9. Chan YY, Lo WY, Yang SN, Chen YH, Lin JG. The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2015 May 1;176:106-17.
  10. Cheong KB, Zhang JP, Huang Y, Zhang ZJ. The effectiveness of acupuncture in prevention and treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting–a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS ONE. 2013;8(12):e82474.
  11. Chiu HY, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS. Systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2016 Feb 7.
  12. Wu MS, Chen KH, Chen IF, Huang SK, Tzeng PC, Yeh ML, et al. The Efficacy of Acupuncture in Post-Operative Pain Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLOS ONE. 2016;11(3):e0150367.
  13. He XR, Wang Q, Li PP. Acupuncture and moxibustion for cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review and meta- analysis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(5):3067-74.
  14. Ling WM, Lui LY, So WK, Chan K. Effects of acupuncture and acupressure on cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2014 Nov 1;41(6):581-92.
  15. Posadzki P, Moon TW, Choi TY, Park TY, Lee MS, Ernst E. Acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Support Care Cancer. 2013 Jul;21(7):2067-73.
  16. Finnegan-John J, Molassiotis A, Richardson A, Ream E. A systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine interventions for the management of cancer-related fatigue. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013 Jul;12(4):276- 90.
  17. Zeng Y, Luo T, Finnegan-John J, Cheng AS. Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 May;13(3):193-200.
  18. Choi TY, Kim JI, Lim HJ, Lee MS. Acupuncture for Managing Cancer-Related Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials. Integr Cancer Ther. 2016 Aug 16.
  19. Zhao K. Acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;111:217-34
  20. Shergis JL, Ni X, Jackson ML, Zhang AL, Guo X, Li Y, et al. A systematic review of acupuncture for sleep quality in people with insomnia. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:11-20.
  21. Garcia MK, Graham-Getty L, Haddad R, Li Y, McQuade J, Lee RT, et al. Systematic review of acupuncture to control hot flashes in cancer patients. Cancer. 2015 Nov 15;121(22):3948-58.
  22. Johns C, Seav SM, Dominick SA, Gorman JR, Li H, Natarajan L, et al. Informing hot flash treatment decisions for breast cancer survivors: a systematic review of randomized trials comparing active interventions. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2016 Apr;156(3):415-26.
  23. Chen YP, Liu T, Peng YY, Wang YP, Chen H, Fan YF, et al. Acupuncture for hot flashes in women with breast cancer: A systematic review. J Cancer Res Ther. 2016 Apr-Jun;12(2):535-42.

 

© 2017 Please note this article is copyright protected and should not be copied in part or as a whole without permission from the author