Categorized | Prostate Health

Acupuncture Relieves Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects

The main treatment for men with prostate cancer focuses significantly on reducing the level of testosterone in the body by either surgery or hormone therapy. Testosterone is needed by the cancer to grow and spread.  Eliminating testosterone has been proven to keep the cancer in check.  However, this type of therapy also causes side effects such as hot flashes, similar to those of women experiencing menopause.  To relieve the hot flashes antidepressants are taken but these drugs have side effects of their own such as nausea, dry mouth, sleeplessness, altered appetite and sexual changes.

According to a study conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology and the Acupuncture section of New York Methodist Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, both in New York, acupuncture provides long lasting relief to hot flashes, heart palpitations and anxiety due to side effects of the hormone given to counteract testosterone.

Researchers evaluated 14 men who were experiencing hot flashes due to hormone therapy for prostate cancer. Upon enrolling in the study, the men were given a hot flash score (HFS) to evaluate their discomfort from daily hot flashes.  The mean initial HFS was 28.3.

Participants then received acupuncture 2 times a week for 30 minutes for 4 weeks. The mean HFS after 2 weeks of acupuncture dropped to more than half (10.3), at 6 weeks 7.5 and after 8 months 7.

Hani Ashamalia, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at New York Methodists Hospital said “Our study shows that physicians and patients have an additional treatment for something that affects many men undergoing prostate cancer treatment and actually has long term benefits, as opposed to side effects”

Currently, the researchers are designing a randomized clinical trial to further evaluate acupuncture after prostate cancer treatment and are encouraging men suffering from this symptom to talk to their doctors about enrolling.

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