Background: Radiation therapy for head-and-neck cancer can cause side-effects, including pain, nausea, vomiting, sensory disorders such as anosmia and dysgeusia, dysphagia, xerostomia, hot flashes, fatigue, sleep disorders, and even anxiety and depression disorders. Therapies using acupuncture are now being adopted at cancer therapy centers. Acupuncture has been clinically proven to reduce the side-effects of cancer therapies, thus, resulting in better quality of life. Case: A 65-year-old man was diagnosed with stage I laryngeal squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC), and had missing taste and pain on swallowing (visual analogue scale [VAS]: 4) after undergoing 30 sessions of radiation therapy for head-and-neck cancer with a total radiation dose of 60 Gy. He received acupuncture at: body points (LI 4 Hegu, LR 3 Taichong, ST 36 Zusanli, SP 6 Sanyinjiao, and ST 40 Fenglong); the Battlefield Acupuncture points of the ear (Cingulate Gyrus, Thalamus, Zero Point, Shen Men, and Omega 2); and on the wrist area (according to a balance method). Acupuncture therapy was given 2 times a week, for 45-minute sessions. Results: After 12 acupuncture sessions, he had improvement in taste function and pain reduction from VAS 4 to VAS 1. This improvement likely occurred due to acupuncture's anti-inflammatory effects through anti-inflammatory mediator secretion, an antipain effect through ß-endorphin secretion, and nerve-cell regeneration through neurotropic factors' secretion. Conclusions: Routine acupuncture therapy can reduce dysgeusia and pain in postradiated patients with head-and-neck cancer. Acupuncture can be a therapeutic choice for patients with post-radiation head-and-neck cancer toxicity.
- head-and-neck cancer
- radiation therapy