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Integr Cancer Ther. 2007 Mar;6(1):36-41.

Acupuncture for chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction: a hypothesis-generating literature review to inform clinical advice.

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Center for East-West Medicine, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


There is an emerging consensus that between one fifth and one half of breast cancer patients experience chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction. Research shows that patients with cancer are often interested in acupuncture for symptom relief. A clinical question thus arises: What should physicians advise their patients regarding the use of acupuncture to alleviate or ameliorate chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction? The authors review and synthesize 2 bodies of relevant research literature: (1) the developing literature on the etiology and nature of chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction and (2) the literature concerning acupuncture for neurological diseases and psychological issues. There is evidence that acupuncture may be effectively used to manage a range of psychoneurological issues, some of which are similar to those experienced by patients with chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction. The evidence of efficacy is more promising for psychological than neurological conditions. Given evidence of possible efficacy combined with evidence of demonstrated safety, we suggest that physicians should support patient decisions to use acupuncture services for chemotherapy-associated cognitive dysfunction, especially given the lack of proven alternatives.

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