Medical Minute 1-19: Going Under the Needle: Cancer Pain Report

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

("It's just like a member of the family I've had it for so long."

A few years ago, 83-year-old Janet Davis was enjoying her plane and her retirement. She flew wherever and whenever she wanted. But, a second mastectomy grounded her last April. Now, she's fighting the effects of bone cancer, chemo and radiation. She's just one of the 1.1 million folks who suffer from cancer pain each year.

So, the University of North Carolina medical school's Doctor "Jay" Park stepped in to help. His solution: Acupuncture.

Janet would rather have needles than pain killers. Doctor Park inserts thin needles into specific acupuncture points on the skin - 365 in all. The goal is to stimulate the nervous system and release natural painkiller like adenosine.

"It reduces the pain. It's just not there anymore," said Janet Davis.

"As treatment effect of acupuncture becomes noticeable patients start to reduce their narcotics or pain killers," said Jongbae J. Park, K.M.D., Ph.D., UNC School of Medicine.

The proof? Studies show acupuncture alone cut post-chemotherapy fatigue by 31 percent and slashed overall cancer pain by 36 percent.

It's no cure, but it's working for Janet, and honestly, that's all she needs.

Jongbae J. Park, KMD, PhD Department of Physical Medicine and Rehab University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC(919) 942-6969jongbae_park@med.unc.edu


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