Acupuncture therapy - alternative medicineThis article is meant to start the discussion of acupuncture as a part of cancer care.  Their results are quite confusing however.  From the article electroacupuncture clearly helps nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.  It also suggests it can be helpful for other side effects, but isn’t specific.  It’s a start.

Time for Acupuncture to Become Part of Standard Care
Posted: 02/08/2013 8:50 am

Acupuncture, the insertion of small, stainless steel needles into points on the body to stimulate specific areas, has been used in recent years by many cancer patients to help with symptom management. Because the mechanisms are not well understood, deciding when and how to safely add acupuncture to one’s treatment plan can be challenging. A recent systematic review conducted by researchers in the Integrative Medicine Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center can now help patients and their oncologists make more informed choices.

The systematic review, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, searched the worldwide literature for randomized, controlled trials evaluating the use of acupuncture for symptom management in cancer patients.

[1] Forty-one studies were found for the treatment of eight symptoms (pain — 11, nausea/vomiting — 11, postoperative ileus (constipation) — eight, xerostomia (dry mouth) — four, hot flashes — seven, fatigue — three, anxiety/depression/mood disorders — five, and sleep disturbance — three), and were rated for study quality and whether outcomes were positive or negative.

One well-designed large study, undefined for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, found electroacupuncture worked better than anti-nausea medications or sham acupuncture (minimal needling) in women with breast cancer.[2] …

References:

1. Garcia MK, McQuade J, Haddad R, Patel S, Lee R, Palmer JL, Yang P, Cohen L. “Acupuncture in cancer care: a systematic review.” Journal of Clinical Oncology (Published online before print Jan. 22, 2013). doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.43.5818)

2. Shen J, Wenger N, Glaspy J, Hays RD, Albert PS, Choi C, Shekelle PG. “Electroacupuncture for control of myeloablative chemotherapy-induced emesis: A randomized controlled trial.” JAMA 284:2755-61, 2000.