Electroacupuncture: What It Is and Why Breast Cancer Patients Should Consider It

A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania indicated that a specific form of acupuncture may provide some relief to women suffering from breast cancer. Electroacupuncture, a form of the treatment where a slight electric current is passed between pairs of the needles, has been shown effective at reducing pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression among early stage patients.

The study, led by Jun Mao, an associate professor with UPenn’s school of medicine, measured the effects of electroacupuncture against those of a placebo, or non-electric acupuncture. As Mao explained, the results of the study suggested that treatments with electroacupuncture may prove to simplify complex treatment regimens for breast cancer patients.

The therapy may allow patients to withstand more rigorous treatment in an attempt to eradicate difficult cases of cancer. In other cases, it may simply serve to make the course of treatment a more pleasant experience.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Monika Wisniewska
Photo: Adobe Stock/Monika Wisniewska

“Since many patients experience pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression simultaneously, our results provide an opportunity to to offer patients one treatment that may target multiple symptoms,” Mao said in a statement.

In order to conduct the study, Mao and other researchers exposed patients to an eight-week trial of the electroacupuncture therapy. Ultimately, researchers determined that the therapy helped reduce self-reported levels of pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression, and that the effect was still noticeable in week 12, four weeks after the experiment ended.

The study, which was published in the journal Cancer, is the first ever to measure the effects of electroacupuncture in relation to the aforementioned symptoms.

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More studies will need to be performed to prove the efficacy of electroacupuncture therapy, but it has certainly shown promise as a symptom reliever, which is great news for cancer patients.

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