Having weekly acupuncture treatment following chemoradiotherapy (CRT) head and neck cancer (HNC) may reduce patients’ symptom severity and decrease the amount of time they need to undergo tubal feeding. In a retrospective case series, ten American patients with HNC were treated with weekly manual and electroacupuncture for radiation-induced dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and xerostomia (dry mouth). Nine out of ten patients reported subjective improvement in swallowing, xerostomia, pain and fatigue levels. Six out of seven patients had their feeding tubes removed after acupuncture, at a median duration of 114 days post CRT, which represents a relatively short time under such circumstances. (Acupuncture for dysphagia after chemoradiation therapy in head and neck cancer: a case series report. Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Sep;9(3):284-90).

Meanwhile, a Norwegian study has examined the quality of life of breast cancer patients on anti-oestrogen medication, two years after receiving acupuncture treatment for hot flushes. Forty-one women from an acupuncture treatment group and 41 women from a sham acupuncture control group had received a course of 15 acupuncture treatments over a period of 10 weeks two years previously. Qualitative data showed that women previously treated with sham acupuncture complained that hot flushes were still a problem, whilst those previously treated with traditional Chinese acupuncture found them less problematic and generally had a more positive outlook on life. (Quality of life of breast cancer patients medicated with anti-estrogens, 2 years after acupuncture treatment: a qualitative study. Int J Womens Health. 2010 Sep 28;2:319-25).

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