Auricular acupuncture therapy will be available to prostate cancer patients under the care of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, as of next month (April).
The therapy, which involves placing five small needles in the ear, is primarily aimed at those receiving hormone therapy as it may help some patients cope with the side effects of their treatment such as hot flushes, anxiety, stress, sleeplessness and generally feeling unwell.
Urology Cancer Support Workers Andrea Dennis and Emma Carroll, who have both been trained in ear acupuncture by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), volunteered to run the clinics which have received funding from Prostate Cancer UK.
Although the clinics are not expected to start until Easter, the announcement has been made to coincide with Prostate Cancer Awareness Month which runs throughout March.
To mark the event, Andrea and Emma will be hosting a stall, along with Prostate Cancer UK volunteer Terry Potter – who is a survivor of prostate cancer, in main reception at Maidstone Hospital on Tuesday 10 March from 10am to 4pm. They will also be in the entrance area of Tunbridge Wells Hospital on Wednesday 11 March between 10am and 4pm.
Visitors will be able to take away information leaflets, ask Terry about his own experiences of prostate cancer and speak to Andrea and Emma and members of the Clinical Nurse Specialist Team about the forthcoming acupuncture therapy clinics which Oncologists and the Clinical Nurse Specialist Team will be able to refer suitable patients to.
The acupuncture therapy clinics will be held every Monday between 3pm and 4.30pm in the Infusion Suite on Peale Ward located on Level 1 in the Green Zone at Maidstone Hospital and every Wednesday between 6pm and 7.30pm in the Plaster Suite located in Outpatients Zone 2 at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.
Patients are asked to commit to one hour per week for a total of six weeks in order to complete the therapy course.
Andrea Dennis said: “The acupuncture therapy clinics are a complementary service for patients in addition to their mainstream treatment.
“For some patients they may notice a general improvement in both physical and emotional well-being because acupuncture may help reduce the side effects of their treatment.
“As the therapy is set in a group environment, with a maximum of 10 patients in the room at any one time, we hope it will help patients to feel that they are not alone and to find support from their peers. An important part of the session is sitting quietly for about 40 minutes, something very few people do these days, and this alone will help anyone who maybe suffering with stress.”
Offering acupuncture therapy to cancer patients isn’t new for the Trust. In 2016 its Breast Cancer Team opened an acupuncture clinic at the Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone Hospital in memory of Susan Murray, a former patient who died in June 2015.
Emma Carroll added: “Those clinics have been very successful and popular with patients so we’re really just duplicating what’s already in place as prostate cancer patients suffer similar aside-effects to those receiving treatment for breast cancer.”