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Information for Patients

Acupuncture for Managing Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Ting Bao, M.D., D.A.B.M.A. is a Fellowship-trained medical oncologist and Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Acupuncture. She conducts a weekly Acupuncture clinic at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique of inserting and manipulating stainless steel needles into various acupoints (energy/Qi focusing points) throughout the body to achieve therapeutic effect.

How does acupuncture work?

There are more than 360 acupoints on the body, distributed along 14 major meridians or energy channels. Each meridian is connected to certain organs or functions of the body. The acupuncture practitioner determines the correct points to use depending on the condition being treated. The theory behind acupuncture is that when one or more of the body’s energy channels is blocked, discomfort results.

How does acupuncture help in managing side effects of cancer treatment?

Some cancer patients may experience side effects as a result of their cancer treatment. These may include nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy, peripheral neuropathy, or tingling, numbness or a burning sensation in the extremities; dry mouth from radiation therapy, or hot flashes from hormone therapy. Research has shown that acupuncture can be very successful in alleviating many of these side effects for the majority (but not all) of patients treated.

How is acupuncture delivered?

A patient lies on a comfortable massage table, while the practitioner inserts acupuncture needles into the appropriate acupuncture points. As many as 15 needles may be inserted at one session. Needles are left in place for approximately 20 minutes. Each session takes about 30-45 minutes in total. It usually takes a few sessions to improve chronic conditions.

Which conditions or side effects of cancer treatment can be treated with acupuncture?

I am currently treating cancer patients suffering from pain, neuropathy (tingling, numbness, burning sensation), nausea, dry mouth, fatigue, anxiety, and GI symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, hot flashes, insomnia, and aromatase inhibitor induced-joint muscle pain and stiffness. Most of my acupuncture patients are referred by their oncologist or nurse. However, patients may contact me directly to discuss whether acupuncture may be helpful in managing their treatment side effects.


Acupuncture Clinic in Stoler Pavilion: Every Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. For appointments or more information, please call: 410-328-7904


This page was last updated on: April 19, 2010.