When it comes to health issues, cancer can be an incredibly scary word that conjures all sorts of emotions and fears in the patient. What’s important to remember is that cancer is not the formidable medical foe that it once was, and according to studies published as recently as 2018, cancer survival rates are still improving year over year, and some types of cancer are becoming entirely manageable with early detection and treatment.
Breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer experienced by women, has had significant breakthroughs in detection and treatment, to the point where survival rates have increased 39% from 1989 to 2015 among women.
As important and encouraging as these statistics are, there is another side to the treatment of breast cancer that is equally important and which has made huge strides in the last few years, and that is the holistic treatment approach which supports women in with managing symptoms, side effects of treatment, and overall supporting their quality of life by addressing their health care from a perspective that includes physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
This article will summarize some of the most recent and well-accepted ideas about an integrative medicine approach to dealing with breast cancer.
Holistic Techniques such as Acupuncture and Massage Therapy
Acupuncture, Massage, and Chiropractic therapy are three options for holistic techniques to manage some of the difficult symptoms of breast cancer and side effects of treatment. What they all have in common is that they require a practitioner who is professional and has experience in treating patients who are living with a cancer diagnosis.
Acupuncture can be used to:
- Relieve Fatigue
- Control Hot Flashes
- Decrease Nausea
- Reduce Vomiting
- Lessen Pain
Massage helps with:
- Immune Function
A recent comprehensive study finds that a spiritual practice can go a long way to supporting psychological health after a breast cancer diagnosis and assist the healing process. There are many types of spiritual approaches to holistic healing, including meditation, reiki, religious groups/communities, Shiatsu, Tai Chi, and so on.
An analysis of 43 studies on people with advanced forms of cancer found that by engaging in a spiritual practice their overall well-being and health was supported, they were better able to cope with their illnesses, and were able to find meaning in their experiences.
As noted above, most patients go on to survive their breast cancer diagnosis if quickly diagnosed and treated. With this in mind, a holistic approach becomes necessary to support the patient after treatment. Post-treatment care can include regular sessions with a counselor or therapist to address post-traumatic symptoms, fears of cancer recurrence, and body image issues.
Patients also require support to integrate back into society and workplaces after long treatment periods, and an integrative approach which includes support groups and open communication practices can help to provide this element of care.