According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 10million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year, and more than 6 million die from cancer. It is projected that in the next 20 years these numbers will increase by 50%.
Although Cancer has always accompanied humankind in its evolutionary process, its prevalence has increased dramatically in recent decades partly due to a longer life expectancy, better detection methods and partly due to emotional stress, irregular or poor diet and exposure to cancer-inducing chemicals in food and in the environment.
Chinese medicine has a great deal to offer in the support of cancer in three major ways:
i) It can be used effectively in conjunction with Western treatments to maximise effectiveness
ii) It can be used to alleviate side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
iii) It sheds light, from a TCM perspective, on the cause and prevention of cancer and potentially helping to prevent recurrence
It is generally recognised that the techniques of Western medicine (essentially surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy) are more effective than Chinese medicine in eliminating cancer and restricting the growth and metastasis or tumours. However Western treatments of cancer are frequently harsh, toxic and have adverse side-effects. These side-effects can be devastating and profoundly damaging to Qi, Blood and Essence: quite often, the “cure” literally seems to be worse than the disease itself.
This is where Chinese medicine comes into its own: when used in conjunction with Western medicine, it has an essential role to play in restoring the body’s balance, strengthening the immune system, reducing the side-effects of these more drastic treatment methods and enabling the courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to be completed. Studies show that acupuncture can act against carcinogens (factors attributable to cancer development) through its ability to reduce stress and enhance immune function. (Acupuncture Evidence Project(McDonald J, and Janz S 2017)
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help to improve the quality of life of cancer patients, keeps them strong enough to fight the disease and therefore extending the survival period.