Acupuncture: A standard complement to cancer care

In Bozeman, we are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of health-related treatment options. When it comes to cancer treatment, the Bozeman Deaconess Cancer Center offers comprehensive standard care services and acupuncture is offered in private clinics throughout our fair city.

Acupuncture is a recognized complement to standard cancer careacu crop

I teach an Introduction to Complementary Medicine class for people with cancer. The focus is on how acupuncture can relieve side effects often caused by cancer treatments and improving immune response.

The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (under the US Department of Health and Human Services) publishes an Acupuncture Physician Data Query (PDQ).1 It is an independent source chock full of information about the research and theories behind acupuncture and how it has the potential to ease the suffering of cancer.

Hope for reducing side effects of cancer treatment

Surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and other anticancer drugs are known to cause a huge range of negative side effects. Fortunately, there is mounting scientific evidence from decades of research that acupuncture can relieve these side effects or at least help keep them from getting worse:

Nausea and vomiting
Weight loss
Insomnia/sleep problems
Poor appetite
Dry mouth
Hot flashes
Nerve problems/neuropathy
Constipation and diarrhea
Failure of gastrointestinal muscles to move food through the GI tract

Why acupuncture is worth a try

For some conditions, more study is needed to prove acupuncture’s effectiveness. However, given that acupuncture has few, if any, unwanted side effects when administered by a licensed acupuncturist using single use sterile needles and clean needle technique, it makes sense to give it a fair try. In addition to the potential relief it can bring, studies show acupuncture may also help boost the immune system so it can better withstand some forms of standard cancer treatment.


1 National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Acupuncture. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <11/20/2015>. Available at: Accessed <01/27/2016>.


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