Journal: Open access text
Manuscript title: Early-stage breast cancer: a successful non-conventional treatment case – acupuncture: case report and review of literature
Despite advances made in conventional oncological treatment for early-stage breast cancer, such treatments have been known to cause severe side effects without offering a curative guarantee. To this date, acupuncture has proven beneficial for palliative purposes and the treatment of chemotherapy-related toxicities only. We present a case of a female patient who refused standardized medical care and decided to pursue acupuncture with a therapeutic objective and experienced encouraging outcomes. This favorable result gives way to the potential of studying this modality in well-designed trials solely for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer.
A 56yo G0P0 female with no significant past medical history presented a bilaterally abnormal mammogram. Her past surgical history was significant for a right excisional biopsy in 1991 showing atypical cells, however she did not follow up with any therapy options. Her family history was positive for early stage breast cancer with her mother being diagnosed in her 70s and her maternal cousin undergoing a mastectomy in her 40s. Gynecological history was relevant for menarche at age 15 and menopause at age 50. She had never used any contraceptive methods. Her mammogram reported “grouped heterogeneous calcifications in the right subareolar breast at 3 o’clock and 1 o’clock in the left breast. There are mass-like areas associated with the calcifications”. Subsequent ultrasound reported “poorly defined mass in the right breast at 3 o’clock with associated calcifications which corresponds to the mammography finding. The area measures 1.6 × 1.2 × 1.3 cm. There is a similar area in the left breast 1 o’clock which measures 1.7 × 1.4 × 1.3 cm”. US guided biopsy demonstrated right ductal carcinoma-in-situ, intermediate nuclear grade, and cribriform pattern with comedal necrosis and associated calcifications, ER + (90%)”. Left breast tissue demonstrated “invasive ductal carcinoma, histologic grade 2, with ductal carcinoma-in-situ, low nuclear grade, cribriform patterns with focal necrosis, ER + (95%), PR + (75%) with usual ductal hyperplasia, columnar cell change, sclerosing adenosis and cysts calcifications associated with invasive tumor, ductal carcinoma in-situ, lobules and stroma". Given her staging (left T1sN0 DCIS, intermediate nuclear grade and a right T1cNo IDC, grade 2, ER +, PR +), she was recommended bilateral wide local excision and bilateral sentinel lymph node biopsy and genetic counseling. Despite several warnings, the patient refused conventional oncological treatment and decided to pursue acupuncture as an alternative treatment modality.
At the time of initial presentation for acupuncture treatment, patient complained of insomnia, night sweats, sinus problems, mouth sores, and nocturia. The initial evaluation showed an exhausted, irritated patient with obvious stress and anxiety. The right breast lump was measured at 3 cm2 and completely adjacent to the nipple, and the left one was soft and measured 4 cm2. Treatment plan was designed to prevent Qi stasis of stomach and liver meridians and eliminating the lumps. The following acupuncture points were utilized: GB21 Jian Jing, ST16 Yingchuang, LI11 Quchi, ST 36 Zusanli, RN4 (CV4) Guan Yuan, GB36 WaiQiu, LR9 (LV9) YinBao, GB37 Guang Ming, GB39 XuanZhong. Treatment also included surface bloodletting on the upper back. A week after initial therapy, the patient reported feeling stronger and better. Her insomnia was improving and the night sweats had completely subsided. The right breast mass was no longer fixed. However, the pulse was soft and slow; and tongue had a light thin cover. Treatment was planned at that time to eliminate the inside coldness, promote Qi flow, and eradicate the lump. Patient was seen again after 19 days but no significant change in lump characteristics was appreciated. Nevertheless, the stomach was now hot and there was stasis of Liver Qi. Seven days after this visit, wet accumulation was noted. During the course of acupuncture treatments, the patient performed self moxibustion on a daily basis and drank Ling Zhi soap (Ganoderma Lucidum Karst). The three month follow up visit revealed complete resolution of symptoms and no perceivable masses upon physical examination. CA27.29 is 16.5 ng/mL (0.0-38.0). A repeat ultrasound performed at this time indicated no perceivable masses. At this point the patient had received treatment twice a week for 6 weeks followed by weekly sessions for another 6 weeks.
Although only one case report, the result is very impressive. Apparently, not every patient of breast cancer can reach complete remission after acupuncture treatment, but the mechanism is worth investigating.
This is only one case report cited online. Response of each individual may vary. If you have breast cancer, please consult with your medical doctor first. The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The use of the site content does not establish any patient-client relationships.