Acupuncture for cancer patients: why not?

Noah Samuels*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Acupuncture is a complementary medical treatment whose use in cancer patients has been recommended by the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the treatment of cancer and treatment-related symptoms. Pain, nausea, breathlessness, vasomotor symptoms and limb edema have all been found to respond to this treatment modality. Accordingly to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture "disperses" the stagnation of energy which is thought to cause the tumor to form. As such, many acupuncturists are unwilling to treat cancer patients for fear of "dispersing" the tumor, as well as further compromising patients' immunity with this immunosuppressive treatment modality. Though it is true that care should be taken not to insert acupuncture needles in the vicinity of the tumor, there is no reason to fear "dispersal" of the tumor when using distant points, since this concept is one of TCM and not conventional medicine. In addition, the immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture, both via the release of pituitary beta-endorphin and ACTH, as well as alleviating patient stress through relief of symptoms, are anti-carcinogenic. The medical establishment in Israel should consider recommending acupuncture for cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-610, 666
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


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