Acupuncture Added to Integrative Medicine at Abramson Cancer Center

Acupuncture for people with cancer at Penn Medicine

Integrative medicine and wellness services are offered at the Abramson Cancer Center. Reiki, yoga and acupuncture can supplement traditional cancer treatments - leading to a better quality of life by reducing the side effects of cancer and treatments. Adam Schreiber, acupuncturist for Penn Medicine's Integrative Medicine program, explains the advantages of the procedure for cancer patients.

Adam Schreiber is an experienced acupuncturist licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine and certified in Oriental Medicine by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Adam has worked with the director of Penn Medicine's Integrative Medicine and Wellness program, Jun Mao, MD in National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trials of acupuncture, for pain and symptom management in breast cancer, for the last three years.

Acupuncture for people with cancer at Penn Medicine
Adam Schreiber

Well regarded by patients and colleagues as highly professional, compassionate, and skillful, Adam is the first credentialed non-physician acupuncturist to join Penn Medicine.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture originated in China, and has been practiced for more than 2,500 years. It is a technique in which hair-thin needles are inserted through the skin to treat a variety of conditions.

While it is not fully understood, the mechanism through which acupuncture can help pain and symptom distress may involve helping the brain to release neuro-chemicals such as endorphins and helping the brain to better regulate regulate the autonomic nervous system. Through these and other mechanisms of action, acupuncture can help combat the side effects of cancer and aggressive cancer treatment.

How does an acupuncture session work?

During a typical acupuncture session, patients lay comfortably on a cushioned table. An acupuncturist then inserts hair-thin, single-use sterilized needles into the patient's skin in key areas, known to stimulate the body to help heal itself.

Sessions typically lasts between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the treatment plan for the individual patient.

Schreiber adds, "most patients tolerate the procedure with minimal discomfort - it's not at all like having blood drawn, or receiving a vaccination". Sometimes patients can see results immediately, and sometimes it may take several sessions before any benefit can be realized. Generally speaking, patients will know if acupuncture can help them within four to eight treatments.

How can acupuncture supplement my cancer treatment options and survivorship efforts?

"One of the reasons I like working with cancer patients," says Schreiber, "is because [acupuncture] compliments all the other treatments Penn Medicine is already doing very well. Some of these treatments are really aggressive, and can cause problems outside of their intended effects, like chemotherapy. Acupuncture can help alleviate those side effects - it works with the body's natural ability to heal itself."

Why come to Penn Medicine for acupuncture instead of a neighborhood practice?

Penn's Integrative Medicine and Wellness program is designed with the cancer patient in mind. It brings acupuncture directly into a conventional cancer therapy setting and treatment is tailored specifically to the patient's needs. Our doctors and researchers are also hard at work conducting research to better understand how acupuncture intersects with cancer treatment, which will help us to understand how acupuncture can best help each individual patient.

"I think that's what's nice about it," said Schreiber, "knowing you're going to an acupuncturist that is comfortable [and experienced] with these types of patients, one who sees them regularly and understands their concerns."

Scheduling an Appointment
For more information, or to schedule a visit, please call 215-615-5858, extension #4.
Acupuncture services are located on the 4th floor West Pavilion of the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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