Last year, Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, GA, hired me to develop an acupuncture treatment program for the cancer patients of Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The program is a component of the Integrative Oncology and Survivorship Program, an innovative model of cancer care created and directed by Viraj Master, MD, Ph.D.
The central focus of integrative oncology is to optimize the health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes across the many stages of cancer treatment and to support patients being active participants in their care.
Currently, our program is located in Emory University Hospital Midtown.
As part of a more expansive and comprehensive model of cancer care, Winship is completing a uniquely designed 17-story hospital, which will be the Winship at Emory Midtown facility.
It is dedicated solely to cancer care. The facility will place patients at the center of specialized care communities to deliver personalized cancer treatment aligned with research. It will be a place where innovation and compassion come together.
Acupuncture treatment in our program is available to any Winship oncology patient. In addition, treatments are provided at no charge for those patients, making the services more accessible.
Acupuncture effectively provides a drug-free option to help control and improve the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.
It is a viable pain management option for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or surgery.
Acupuncture is also beneficial for many common side effects our patients experience after cancer treatment, such as fatigue, depression, hot flashes, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, and xerostomia (dry mouth).
There has been a strong increase in cancer patients (studies estimate around 31%) using acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture use in cancer centers is a relatively new and growing trend. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston are just a few that have been successfully integrating acupuncture into their model of cancer care.
As you might assume, our program has been an enormous success. We have surpassed all predictions on patient utilization and volume. Most importantly, the benefits of the treatments have been remarkable and transformative for many of our patients. Because of our initial success, the program is now expanding into more areas of the Emory Healthcare system, marking another significant step forward, supporting the broader needs of cancer patients and survivors.
Research has demonstrated that acupuncture is a valuable treatment for helping manage treatment side effects such as:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Chronic fatigue
- Hot flashes
- Cancer-related pain
- Postoperative pain support
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Shortness of breath
- Other side effects caused by radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy