San Antonio's Breast Cancer Symposium is annual where big drug makers roll out their studies, but this year, the eastern art of acupuncture has muscled its way into the spotlight, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Most women face debilitating joint pain while being treated for the disease, and it's treated with painkillers. Researchers from the global cancer clinical trials network SWOG ran a study to see if sticking little needles into specific points of the body could have the same effect.In the largest, most rigorous study of its kind, they found that acupuncture significantly reduced the pain, with virtually no side effects.
"The side effect was limited to bruising at the needle insertion sites," Dr. Dawn Hershman tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
And while the study is important, it took extra significance now, thanks to the growing spotlight on prescription meds.
"We have a huge opioid epidemic in this country," Dr. Hershman explains. "Thinking of ways to controlling pain so that patients can stay on their medication is a high priority."
In addition to catching the eyes of cancer researchers, she hopes that the big insurance companies also take notice.
"Patients need to have their intervention paid for by their insurance in order to get it."
She makes it clear, acupuncture won’t cure cancer, but they believe it will help women stay on the drugs that will.