Acupuncture: Integration into cancer care

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.
Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology 02/2006; 4(2):86-92. DOI: 10.2310/7200.2006.010
Source: PubMed


Acupuncture has been evaluated in clinical studies for its effect in reducing some of the common symptoms experienced by cancer patients. Here we introduce this ancient treatment modality, outline its practice in the modern Western medicine setting, discuss safety issues related to the general and oncology populations , discuss its clinical applications in treating common symptoms experienced by cancer patients, and summarize data from clinical studies related to these applications . There is good evidence supporting acupuncture's effects in the reduction of cancer-related pain and chemotherapy-induced acute nausea and vomiting. There are preliminary data suggesting that acupuncture may help reduce post-chemotherapy fatigue and xerostomia caused by radiation. Acupuncture has a good safety record when performed by qualified practitioners. Acupuncture is useful complementary therapy in cancer care. Its integration into regular oncology practice can improve the supportive care of cancer patients.

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    • "It is now a widely accepted intervention for the treatment of a variety of conditions [7]. Several reviews claim that acupuncture offers therapeutic benefits for cancer patients [8-10]. Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese method that uses the heat generated by burning herbal preparations containing Artemisia vulgaris to stimulate acupuncture points [11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese method that uses the heat generated by burning herbal preparations containing Artemisia vulgaris to stimulate acupuncture points. Considering moxibustion is closely related to acupuncture, it seems pertinent to evaluate the effectiveness of moxibustion as a treatment of symptoms of cancer. The objective of this review was to systematically assess the effectiveness of moxibustion for supportive cancer care. We searched the literature using 11 databases from their inceptions to February 2010, without language restrictions. We included randomised clinical trials (RCTs) in which moxibustion was employed as an adjuvant treatment for conventional medicine in patients with any type of cancer. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validations were performed independently by two reviewers. Five RCTs compared the effects of moxibustion with conventional therapy. Four RCTs failed to show favourable effects of moxibustion for response rate compared with chemotherapy (n = 229, RR, 1.04, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.15, P = 0.43). Two RCTs assessed the occurrence of side effects of chemotherapy and showed favourable effects of moxibustion. A meta-analysis showed significant less frequency of nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy for moxibustion group (n = 80, RR, 0.38, 95% CIs 0.22 to 0.65, P = 0.0005, heterogeneity: chi2 = 0.18, P = 0.67, I2 = 0%). The evidence is limited to suggest moxibustion is an effective supportive cancer care in nausea and vomiting. However, all studies have a high risk of bias so effectively there is not enough evidence to draw any conclusion. Further research is required to investigate whether there are specific benefits of moxibustion for supportive cancer care.
    BMC Cancer 04/2010; 10(1):130. DOI:10.1186/1471-2407-10-130 · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Although breast cancer treatment is associated with improved survival rates, it is also associated with numerous side effects, which can decrease overall quality of life for patients. Recent research indicates acupuncture may be useful in decreasing the incidence and duration of some side effects associated with cancer treatment. Objective: To assess the evidence surrounding the role of acupuncture in treating side effects associated with breast cancer treatment. Design: Systematic review based on search of PubMed, EMBASE (1996 to 2009 week 17), AMED (1985 to April 2009), and Ovid MEDLINE (1996 to April 2009) databases for relevant studies published up to April 2009. Authors of recent studies were contacted to determine if additional studies were taking place. Fourteen articles were independently appraised by 4 blinded reviewers. Results: Twelve studies met inclusion criteria: 9 investigated effects of traditional acupuncture and 3 addressed electroacupuncture. Seven different side effects were examined (hot flashes, fatigue, pain, dyspnea, psychological well-being, decreased range of motion with lymphedema, and emesis). The findings support the potential use of traditional acupuncture to decrease hot flashes, fatigue, and pain, whereas electroacupuncture may be useful in treating emesis and hot flashes. There is a paucity of high-quality evidence to support the use of acupuncture to treat dyspnea, emesis, and decreased range of motion with lymphedema or to improve psychological well-being. Conclusion: Current evidence suggests that traditional acupuncture may be useful in reducing hot flashes, fatigue, and pain, whereas electroacupuncture may be useful in treating emesis and hot flashes. Due to limitations in study designs and heterogeneity in treatment protocols, results should be viewed with caution and combined with clinical reasoning.
    Medical Acupuncture 06/2010; 22(2):81-97. DOI:10.1089/acu.2009.0730
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Pain is a common symptom in cancer patients, but very little information about the prevalence, severity, and treatment of pain in cancer patients in Singapore is available. Therefore, our prospective survey in the National Cancer Centre (NCC) outpatients is incorporated in this report. In addition, a review concerning the recent advances on non-interventional pain management in cancer treatment, which is relevant in the context, is discussed. Materials and methods: For the prospective survey, a questionnaire was distributed for self-administration by patients while waiting for consultation at the NCC outpatient departments. Literature searches on advances in pain management were conducted, reviewed and discussed. Results: In the last decade, there have been advances in pain pharmacology ranging from wider therapeutic options and management approaches to novel delivery techniques. Acupuncture and massage therapy became increasingly popular among cancer patients. Some clinical trials of acupuncture show benefits in palliation of cancer pain. From the prospective survey, 41.2% of the responders reported pain in the past week, and only 70.8% talked to their doctors about their pain. One third of the patients received analgesics. Of these, 86.5% said that they were taking the prescribed medications, however, 37.4% admitted to having difficulties taking them. Non-drug methods were used by 25.4% of the patients. Medicated oil, cream or gel was used by 49.3%; only 2.6% reported use of Chinese herbs. Conclusion: Pain is a significant symptom in outpatients attending a cancer centre, affecting 41.2% of the patients. Although majority of patients who suffered from pain reported this to doctors, much more medical effort is needed to help patients to relieve their pain and proper complementary therapy could be considered.
    Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore 09/2012; 41(9):407-16. · 1.15 Impact Factor

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