Eastern and Western Medicine, working together

Today, we saw two patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. One, a 57 year old woman, has been told she has Stage 4 lung cancer. However, she is unable to accept the diagnosis, and refuses to have a biopsy to confirm it. Dr Wang urges her on every visit to take this test, while continuing to treat her with acupuncture and herbs. Her symptoms of chest pain and cough with blood seem to have been controlled well by this treatment. Also, a recent X-Ray appeared to indicate that the tumour had grown very little since one undertaken last year.

The other patient is a 64 year old woman who has had a hysterectomy following discovery of cancerous changes in the uterus. Her main complaint now is that since the operation she has had two incidences of intestinal obstruction that caused her to be hospitalised. She also feels weak and easily fatigued.

In both cases, the acupuncture points used by Dr Wang are well known to all acupuncturists; there is no mystery about them. But it is Dr Wang’s diagnostic skills, which includes his technique of palpating the acupuncture channels, that lead him to select, and needle the points correctly. Moreover, he is not trying to cure cancer – that is unlikely – or solve all their problems at once; he focuses on the symptom that concerns the patient most until it is resolved or stabilised, before moving on to treat others.

What both these cases highlight is the way that Chinese medicine can work with western medicine, either to treat the symptoms of chronic conditions directly, or to ameliorate the after effects of major surgery. And they highlight the Chinese attitude to Traditional Chinese Medicine – its not something that is only sought for minor ailments. For them, its part and parcel of integrated health care.

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