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Acupuncture Can Help Breast Cancer Patients Fight Fatigue

Update Date: Nov 02, 2012 12:13 PM EDT

A new study suggests that breast cancer patients who suffer from fatigue may find relief in acupuncture, an alternative medicine methodology originating in ancient China.

The treatment includes manipulation of thin, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points on the skin of the patient.

According to a report in Mail Online, about 40 percent of breast cancer patients suffer from fatigue and this study is the first clinical trial using acupuncture to treat this particular symptom of the disease.

However, according to the British study that lasted three years, acupuncture improves the overall life of the patient, easing both mental and physical fatigue.

"Fatigue is a blight on the lives of thousands of former cancer patients and this trial proves acupuncture can help them. We were delighted to see so many patients getting substantial benefit from this treatment, particularly as they currently have limited options available. We now need to carry out further work to understand the costs and benefits of delivering acupuncture before it can be made available on the NHS," professor Alex Molassiotis, from the University of Manchester, which led the trial, was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

In the trial that was funded by Breakthrough Breast Cancer and conducted at 10 hospitals across the country including Manchester's Christie Hospital and the Royal Marsden in London, a participation of more than 300 patients was seen.

The usage of acupuncture is not very widespread in the mainstream UK healthcare and is in fact in its infancy stage.

"More people are surviving breast cancer than ever before which means quality of life after treatment is becoming increasingly important. These are very promising results which suggest acupuncture could reduce fatigue symptoms and improve the quality of life of many former breast cancer patients. It raises the possibility that acupuncture could become a standard treatment for fatigue, although we are still some years from that becoming a reality," said Dr. Julia Wilson, Breakthrough Breast Cancer's research chief, according to the report.

The results are published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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