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Acupuncture for Cancer Patients: Pain and Anxiety Relief at RCC

Cancer Care
Author name: Lee Health

A cancer diagnosis and treatment can be an overwhelming time for patients and families.

But the Regional Cancer Center’s Outpatient Facility at the Sanctuary works every day to ensure patients find peace of mind and some relief during their cancer journey.

Acupuncture helps soothe debilitating and life-altering symptoms such as pain, stress, depression, anxiety, and nausea by increasing energy flow and allowing the body to naturally heal itself. And did you know: The American Cancer Society supports the use of acupuncture for cancer patients. Indeed, it helps without the side effects of medication.

Renee Sarra, a licensed acupuncture physician and doctor of oriental medicine at Lee Health, offers acupuncture for cancer patients every Wednesday at RCC. Appointments usually last 30 to 60 minutes, and new patients are put at ease immediately in a calm and comfortable setting.

“For the first visit, I usually listen and weigh what the patients need and want,” Sarra said. “I check their pulse, listen to their concerns, listen to the body, feel where they might be tender. This gives me an indication on what areas or organs to target over others.”

Sarra says that patients are usually amazed at how relaxing acupuncture can be – and how energizing.

“Patients generally sit with needles for 20 minutes, face up, as comfortable as possible, while the body heals itself,” she says. “The big thing we often discuss is scar tissue, which interrupts the balance of energy flow. My goal is to get everything in the body to move again.

“Since cancer treatment causes a lot of fatigue, I try to get that energy flowing again, releasing all that tension in the scar tissue and other areas.”

The results are often immediate.

“Pain loss, gastro and intestinal issues, headaches, damage of the nerves – acupuncture really helps soothe these side effects of chemotherapy,” she says. “Chemo affects the kidney and liver the most, so we can enhance and drive out those toxins and allow the body to heal and process a lot faster.”

“Patients can think about it almost like fixing a frozen shoulder. That stiffness and pain that inhibits energy and movement – acupuncture can really help.”

Oncology physicians at RCC frequently refer patients for acupuncture, and Sarra works in tandem with a patient’s complete cancer care team – part of the RCC’s overall mission of complete care, close to home.

“It’s so nice to feel I’m doing a service for someone who has gone through a lot,” Sarra says.

Other Things to Know about Acupuncture

The body has natural energy that often gets blocked or impaired. Acupuncture – inserting needles at certain points in the body to relieve symptoms – ignites that energy and releases endorphins. Licensed experts use extremely fine, sterilized, and disposable needles to ensure safety and to give you the most possible benefits.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture does not hurt. The needle creates a micro tear, sending a signal to the brain, where chemical messengers release and naturally improve your health. Some patients may feel a slight tingle, and many are surprised by how relaxed they feel.

Are the needles reused?

No. Acupuncture needles are either individually wrapped or sealed in a sterile pack. The FDA regulates these needles, which are discarded after use.

More about needles: How many do you use?

The number of needles varies based on your condition, but typically we use somewhere between eight and 16 each visit. And remember: Acupuncture needles are NOT the same as needles used to poke you and draw blood. These are much finer and thinner.

Are acupuncturists trained?

In Florida, all graduates must complete four state board exams, 870 hours of hands-on clinic, and, typically, four years of schooling. Please remember that not anyone can just start inserting needles into your body. We are trained experts, committed to complete, compassionate, and quality healing.


Outpatient Center at The Sanctuary
8960 Colonial Center Drive
Suite #210
Fort Myers, FL 33905
Acupuncture offered from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays
Talk to your physician about a referral or call for more information: Phone 239-343-9430