The American Cancer Society references the potential benefits of TENS for pain management. TENS is a type of electrical stimulation used for pain management. It delivers electrical pulses to the body via electrodes, similar to NMES but with different parameters that are not adjustable.
The authors, Hills and Stebbing provide a nice review of the work done in using electrical stimulation to treat cancer and the following is a direct excerpt from their article:
“The technique involves the use of electrical fields, delivered through a non-invasive transducer array patch placed directly on the skin above the tumour, to alternate tumour cell polarity, thereby causing the physical disruption of the cell membrane and apoptosis. The treatment is delivered through a non-invasive, insulated transducer array patch. Electrical current is not delivered directly to the tissue, but the patch generates an artificial and alternating electric field within the tumour. The results of a trial in patients with treatment-resistant brain tumours showed a better quality of life and a lower frequency of side-effects in individuals receiving tumour-treating-fields therapy than in those receiving chemotherapy, serving as the basis for FDA approval for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme in 2011. Another study of the efficacy of low-frequency low-intensity electrotherapy in the treatment of breast-cancer-related arm swelling (lymphoedema) also showed that despite no significant changes in lymphoedema volume, there was significant reduction in pain, heaviness, and tightness, further showing that electrotherapy could at least be used to improve a patient’s quality of life.”
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