Is acupuncture ever used to treat canine cancer?
In the U.S., Chinese medicine is mostly used with the intention of aiding a pet through treatment. Often symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dry-mouth, and more can be severe enough to require treatments to be discontinued. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are very effective at easing these symptoms, allowing a pet to finish their course of treatments.
On the other hand, in Chinese medicine, every patient is treated as a whole. Cancer cannot be ignored, as it is part of the pet’s health picture, and so it will always be addressed. As far as Chinese medicine being used exclusively to treat cancer in pets- this is a gray area.
In China, Chinese medicine is often used as the sole treatment for cancer (as well as many other diseases) with reportedly very positive results. However, as far as research goes, there have been no reputable studies done to observe the outcomes of Chinese-medicine-only cancer treatments.
In the U.S., Chinese medicine is usually seen as an adjunctive therapy; one to be used in conjunction with biomedical treatments, so the research that exists comes from the viewpoint of “how can Chinese medicine assist with or ease the side effects of biomedical treatments?” We just haven’t looked at the ability of Chinese medicine to treat cancer directly.
In reality, cancer, in pets, is often not discovered until it is advanced because they are masters at hiding discomfort, and thus, disease. At this point, there usually isn’t enough time to let Chinese medicine work. If the pet’s owner decides to go through with biomedical treatments, Chinese medicine can ease the side effects associated with chemo and radiation.
If the pet’s owner decides not to go through with biomedical treatments, Chinese medicine can help make the pet comfortable and perhaps slow the progression of the disease, giving them more symptom-free time.