Acupuncture in Dimbleby Cancer Care

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture uses extremely fine needles which are inserted in specific points on the body to help stimulate or relax the body.

It can be effective for pain relief, reduce sensitivity to stress, and help with relaxation.

Acupuncture focuses on the individual and their symptoms.

We use it to help with the side effects of cancer and its treatments. The most common symptoms we see include:

  • hot flushes
  • pain
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • sleep problems (insomnia)
  • anxiety
  • dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • nerve damage to parts of the body (peripheral neuropathy)

Our acupuncture clinics

We offer 3 acupuncture clinics.

The clinic you are offered will depend on your symptoms and availability. They are equally effective.

There are 6 weekly treatments, each lasting up to an hour.

You should have something light to eat and drink before your treatment session.

All needles are single use, sterile and disposable.

Individual acupuncture

You will be seen at a one-to-one appointment with your acupuncturist.

Seated acupuncture group

We offer acupuncture in small groups of people in a quiet room where you will be fully clothed and in a seated position.  

Needles are inserted usually from the elbows and knees down, on the head, and around the ears. It is sensible to wear loose fitting clothes so your forearms and lower legs are easily accessible.   

Auricular acupuncture group

We offer an auricular acupuncture clinic for hot flushes and night sweats.

Treatments are standardised and provided by suitably trained complementary therapists.

Needles are only inserted in the ear.

Before starting acupuncture

Tell your therapist if you:

  • have haemophilia or are taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medicines)
  • are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant
  • suffer from epilepsy or seizures
  • have a heart pacemaker
  • have diabetes

Acupuncture is not suitable for everyone

Even though acupuncture is proven to be an effective tool for pain, it is not suitable for everyone.

It is not suitable if you:

  • are allergic to metal (specifically stainless steel)
  • are scared of needles (needle phobia)

Speak to your therapist if you are not sure.

Having acupuncture

The treatment is in Dimbleby Cancer Care in the Welcome Village at Guy’s Cancer.

Dimbleby Cancer Care is an outpatient setting and so we cannot provide oxygen or medicine to those having acupuncture treatment.

Please make sure that you bring enough supplies to cover your appointment and your journeys to and from the hospital.

We can only offer acupuncture to our patients and so it is not available to family or carers.

Risks in receiving acupuncture

All treatments and procedures have risks and we will discuss the risks of acupuncture with you before the treatment starts.

During the treatment:

  • some people may feel faint, or actually faint, especially the first time they receive acupuncture
  • some people may feel discomfort as the needle is inserted although this usually doesn’t last long

After the treatment:

  • sometimes a small bruise can appear where the needle was inserted
  • occasionally people can feel dizzy or tired after a treatment but this passes quickly
  • do not drive or operate machinery immediately after your appointment if you are affected

Alternative treatment

Acupuncture is a drug-free treatment. It is safe, and can work alongside existing treatments. If you are referred to acupuncture, we advise you to complete the course to get the maximum benefit.

If you choose to not have acupuncture, or find it does not suit you, other treatments may be offered. We will discuss this with you and it will depend on your choice and what is appropriate.

Sources of information

The British Acupuncture Council promotes traditional Chinese acupuncture and provides information for patients and practitioners.

Our acupuncturists

We have a team of practitioners who are experienced in working with cancer patients.

Our acupuncturists have a degree in acupuncture, and are registered with the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).

Resource number: 4323/VER3
Date published: March 2023
Review date: March 2026

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about acupuncture or any other complementary therapy, please contact Dimbleby Cancer Care.

Phone: 020 7188 5918 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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