Table 2. Clinical Studies of Acupuncture: For Cancer Treatment–related Side Effect: Paina

Reference Citation(s) Type of Study Condition Treated No. of Patients: Enrolled; Treated; Controlb Strongest Benefit Reportedc Concurrent Therapy (Yes/No/ Unknown)d Level of Evidence Scoree
[20]RCTPain/depression 138; 93 acupuncture and massage; 45 usual care Increased pain relief/decreased depression Yes (usual care) 1iiC
[16]RCTPain/depression 16; 12 Chinese herbs, auricular EA, or epidural morphine given alone or in combination; 4 placebo controlsCombination treatment better than placebo and EA alone, Chinese herbs alone, or epidural morphine alonefYes (Chinese herbs; epidural morphine) 1iC
[19]RCTMusculoskeletal pain 51; 23; 20 Improved joint pain and stiffness Yes (aromatase inhibitors) 1iiC
[17]Nonrandomized controlled trial Local pain and limitation of arm movement after breast cancer surgery and axillary lymph node dissection 80; 48 acupuncture; 32 no acupuncture Improved postoperative pain; improved range of arm motiong Unknown2C
[21]Pilot study Musculoskeletal pain related to adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy 21; 19 acupuncture; none Reduced severity and increased functional ability Yes (analgesics: acetaminophen, NSAIDs, or COX-2 inhibitors and various CAM approaches) 3iiiC
[18]Retrospective case reviewChemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy18; 17; noneImprovement in symptomsUnknown3iiiC

COX-2 = cyclooxygenase 2; EA = electroacupuncture; No. = number; NSAID = nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug; RCT = randomized controlled trial.

aRefer to text and the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms for additional information and definition of terms.

bNumber of patients treated plus number of patient controls may not equal number of patients enrolled; number of patients enrolled equals number of patients initially considered by the researcher who conducted a study; number of patients treated equals number of enrolled patients who were given the treatment being studied AND for whom results were reported.

cStrongest evidence reported that the treatment under study has anticancer activity or otherwise improves the well-being of cancer patients.

dConcurrent therapy for symptoms treated (not cancer).

eFor information about levels of evidence analysis and an explanation of the level of evidence scores, refer to Levels of Evidence for Human Studies of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

fP < .05, combination of traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture and Chinese herbs) and epidural morphine versus placebo.

gP < .01, acupuncture treatment versus no acupuncture treatment.

From: Acupuncture (PDQ®)

Cover of PDQ Cancer Information Summaries
PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet].
Bethesda (MD): National Cancer Institute (US); 2002-.

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