Acupuncture for cancer

The American Cancer Society reports there will be more than one hundred five thousand new cases of colon cancer and forty-two thousand new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed this year in the United States. When the cancers become advanced, they bring on a host of side effects that make quality of life poor.

Now, doctors hope acupuncture will help them live better and with less stress.

Every tuesday, for thirty-three years, eddie thomas has done the same thing.

"I have to set the board up. I put the quickies out," said Eddie Thomas.

The church bingo game keeps eddie going -- despite the cancer in his colon that spread to his lungs.

"I was coughing a lot, and I went to the doctors, and they found nodules in my lungs," said Thomas.

Chemo keeps the nodules under control, but it's an alternative treatment that recently helped this gambling man cope with the cancer.

"Acupuncture? Wow! That's exciting. It's an exciting word to me."

Doctor Ellen Redinbaugh and colleagues are looking to tiny needles as a way to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. More than that, they're trying to understand why it works.

"I think we, in Western science, have some tools available to us that can help answer that question," said Ellen Redinbaugh, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center, Pittsburgh, PA.

USING COTTON, STUDY PARTICIPANTS' SALIVA IS TESTED FOR THE STRESS HORMONE CORTISOL FOUR TIMES A DAY. REDINBAUGH THINKS SHE KNOWS WHAT THEY'LL SEE.

"Their cortisol levels will actually start to decline because their overall stress will decline," said Ellen Redinbaugh.

These days Eddie is feeling good. He says part of it may be the acupuncture and another part, his faith. Together, they're a winning card.

Study participants receive acupuncture three times a week for four weeks. Each session lasts about forty-five minutes and is done at the patient's home. The current study is being performed only at the University of Pittsburgh, but a qualified acupuncture physician may be able to help relieve the symptoms, Too.

For more information:
Donna Creola, project coordinator
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center
UPMC Cancer Pavillion
5150 Centere Ave., Room 447
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
(412) 623-5774

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2003