Benefits of acupuncture for patients with breast cancer

Chao LF et al. The efficacy of acupoint stimulation for the management of therapy-related adverse events in patients with breast cancer: a systematic review.
Breast Cancer Res Treat 2009; 118: 255-67.

A systematic review that assessed the evidence on the use of acupoint stimulation for managing therapy-related adverse events in patients with breast cancer. A total of 26 clinical trials, 18 in English and eight in Chinese, were included. They assessed the application of acupoint stimulation on six disparate conditions related to anticancer therapies, including vasomotor syndrome, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, lymphoedema, post-operation pain, aromatase inhibitors-related joint pain and leukopenia. Methods of acupoint stimulation included traditional acupuncture, acupressure, electroacupuncture, and the use of a magnetic device on acupuncture points. Overall, 23 trials (88%) reported positive outcomes on at least one of the conditions examined. However, only nine trials (35%) were of high quality. Three of these found that acupoint stimulation on P6 was beneficial to chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. For other adverse events, the quality of many of the trials identified was found to be poor and no conclusive remarks could be made. The reviewers concluded that acupoint stimulation, particularly acupressure on the P6 acupoint, appears to be beneficial in the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, especially in the acute phase.

Benefits of Acupuncture in cancer-related fatigue

Molassiotis A et al. The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: a randomised controlled trial.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2007; 15: 228-37.

A randomised controlled trial that looked at the effects of acupuncture and acupressure in managing cancer-related fatigue. Forty-seven patients with cancer who experienced moderate to severe fatigue were randomised either to an acupuncture group, an acupressure group or a sham acupressure group. Significant improvements were found with regards to General fatigue (p<0.001), Physical fatigue (p=0.016), Activity (p=0.004) and Motivation (p=0.024). At the end of the intervention, there was a 36% improvement in fatigue levels in the acupuncture group, while the acupressure group improved by 19% and the sham acupressure by 0.6%. Improvements were observed even 2 weeks after treatments, although they were lower (22%, 15%, 7%, respectively). Acupuncture was a more effective method than acupressure or sham acupressure. The researchers concluded that acupuncture shows great potential in the management of cancer-related fatigue.