Acupuncture is an integrative medicine therapy that has been proven to help with pain, improve well-being, and reduce the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Through Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center Integrative Medicine, acupuncture is available to help support you during your cancer treatment.
You do not need to do anything special before an acupuncture treatment. Most people wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes with pants that can be easily raised to their knees.
You will need a referral from a Fred Hutch provider to schedule acupuncture.
Not all insurance plans cover acupuncture services. If you have insurance, Patient Financial Services will contact your insurance provider to check your coverage and help you understand your benefits. They can be reached at (800) 304-1763. If your insurance does not cover acupuncture, you can choose to pay for your treatments on your own.
You and your acupuncturist will talk about your treatment plan. A typical course of acupuncture often involves weekly treatments for eight weeks. Some conditions may need more than eight weeks of treatment to get long-term results. If this is the case, we will give you a list of referrals for acupuncturists in the community.
The first appointment is 60 minutes. Please be here 15 minutes early for your first appointment. Each follow-up appointment is about 45 minutes. Each person may react differently to acupuncture. You could feel relief from symptoms right away, or you may need more than one treatment before you notice a change.
If your symptoms don't start getting better after five treatments, your provider will talk with you about if acupuncture is right for you at this time. During treatment, we recommend that you keep a journal of your symptoms to help you notice and track changes over time.
Your acupuncturist will put very thin, sterile needles into specific places on your body, which are called acupuncture points. Your acupuncturist may put needles in a body part that is different from where your symptoms are. For example, they may put a needle in your hand to help reduce headaches. This is normal.
Frequently used acupuncture points are located on your lower arms (below the elbows) and on your lower legs (below the knees). Your acupuncturist will tell you the general areas of the planned treatment and if you need to take off any clothing. A gown or sheet will be provided if you need to take off your clothing so your acupuncturist can reach the acupuncture points.
Between 10 to 20 needles are used in a typical treatment. When the needles are put in, you may feel a mild pinching, but it is not painful. You may feel a mild aching sensation or pressure when a needle gets to the right place. Your practitioner may gently move the needles after putting them in or apply mild electrical pulses to the needles using a device. The needles stay in place for 20 to 30 minutes while you lie down and relax.