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Pain Management for Cancer Patients

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Acupuncture for cancer pain: This process is simple to do and in the right hands is amazingly effective.
Acupuncture was found to be effective for the reduction and relief of symptoms that commonly affect patient QOL. This has been widely adopted in major cancer centers around the country such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Medical Cannabis: Studies have long shown that cancer patients who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine. Medical Cannabis is different from street cannabis in that, Medical Cannabis is a well-regulated industry and we are assured of its quality and contents. Hemp-derived CBD oil has claims that it is effective but hard to quantify in terms of quality and contents. The Society of Integrative Oncology and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians are some of the organizations that are advocates for this modality of treatment. Unfortunately, most cancer physicians are unaware of the benefits of Medical Cannabis even though it is legal under Florida law.

Biofeedback for pain control: In combination with other modalities, biofeedback teaches patients to learn how to invoke positive physical changes in the body, using body sensors as guides. They learn to relax specific muscles when the body is physically or mentally stressed. The goal of biofeedback is to eventually be able to produce a therapeutic response without the help of technology.

Hypnotherapy for pain management: Hypnotic analgesia has been used successfully in a number of ways to help patients with pain. For acute pain, it has proven effective in interventional radiology and various surgical procedures. Chronic pain conditions for which hypnosis has been used successfully include, among others, headache, backache, fibromyalgia, carcinoma-related pain, temporal mandibular disorder pain, and mixed chronic pain. Hypnosis works by alleviating the experience of pain and improves quality of life. The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis is involved in active research in this area of pain management.

Published Clinical Practice Guidelines of Cancer Pain in Adult Patients have continued to ignore these alternate interventions, even though they are being adopted by some of the major Academic Cancer centers in the country.

Patients need to take control of their wellbeing by being educated and explore these options.
Ramesh Kumar, MD
An Oncologist with Additional Training in Medical Acupuncture from Harvard Medical School.

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