In a randomized clinical trial, 76 patients with various types of cancer, including 38 with esophageal cancer, 24 with gastric cancer, and 14 with lung cancer, were randomly assigned to two groups (n = 38 per group). The treatment group received acupuncture in combination with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, and the control group was treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy alone. The data showed that the patients in the acupuncture group gained significantly more body weight than patients in the control group (P < .001). The acupuncture group also showed greater improvement than the controls in the symptoms of cough, thoracodynia, hemoptysis, and fever for patients with lung cancer and the symptoms of chest pain, mucus vomiting, and difficulty in swallowing for patients with esophageal cancer. In addition, the acupuncture group suffered fewer side effects (poor appetite, N/V, dizziness, or fatigue) from radiation therapy or chemotherapy than the control group. However, no statistical analysis was performed on these data. A RCT of 138 patients treated with acupuncture plus massage versus usual care showed decreased pain (P = .05) and a decrease in depressive mood (P = .003) in postoperative cancer patients.
A retrospective survey study involved patients of an oncology clinic who were offered acupuncture treatment for potential palliation of symptoms. Among 89 patients treated with acupuncture, 79 responded to a telephone questionnaire survey. The data indicated that the major reasons for referral included pain (53%), xerostomia (32%), hot flashes (6%), and nausea/loss of appetite (6%). Sixty percent of the patients showed at least 30% improvement in their symptoms, and about one-third had no change in the severity of symptoms. Patients were not questioned regarding acupuncture treatment expectations.
Current Clinical Trials
Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for U.S. cancer CAM clinical trials on acupuncture therapy, acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, electroacupuncture therapy and acupressure therapy that are actively enrolling patients.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
- Xia YQ, Zhang D, Yang CX, et al.: An approach to the effect on tumors of acupuncture in combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. J Tradit Chin Med 6 (1): 23-6, 1986.
- Zhou RX, Huang FL, Jiang SR, et al.: The effect of acupuncture on the phagocytic activity of human leukocytes. J Tradit Chin Med 8 (2): 83-4, 1988.
- He CJ, Gong KH, Xu QZ, et al.: Effects of microwave acupuncture on the immunological function of cancer patients. J Tradit Chin Med 7 (1): 9-11, 1987.
- Wu B, Zhou RX, Zhou MS: [Effect of acupuncture on interleukin-2 level and NK cell immunoactivity of peripheral blood of malignant tumor patients] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 14 (9): 537-9, 1994.
- Wu B, Zhou RX, Zhou MS: [Effect of acupuncture on immunomodulation in patients with malignant tumors] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 16 (3): 139-41, 1996.
- Wei Z: Clinical observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture at zusanli for leukopenia. J Tradit Chin Med 18 (2): 94-5, 1998.
- Ye F, Chen S, Liu W: Effects of electro-acupuncture on immune function after chemotherapy in 28 cases. J Tradit Chin Med 22 (1): 21-3, 2002.
- Ye F, Liu D, Wang S, et al.: Effects of electro-acupuncture on T cell subpopulations, NK activity, humoral immunity and leukocyte count in patients undergoing chemotherapy. J Tradit Chin Med 27 (1): 19-21, 2007.
- Niemtzow RC: Integration of complementary disciplines into the oncology clinic. Part I. Acupuncture. Curr Probl Cancer 24 (4): 184-93, 2000 Jul-Aug.
- Dang W, Yang J: Clinical study on acupuncture treatment of stomach carcinoma pain. J Tradit Chin Med 18 (1): 31-8, 1998.
- Alimi D, Rubino C, Leandri EP, et al.: Analgesic effects of auricular acupuncture for cancer pain. J Pain Symptom Manage 19 (2): 81-2, 2000.
- Filshie J, Redman D: Acupuncture and malignant pain problems. Eur J Surg Oncol 11 (4): 389-94, 1985.
- Wen HL: Cancer pain treated with acupuncture and electrical stimulation. Mod Med Asia 13 (2): 12-6, 1977.
- Alimi D, Rubino C, Pichard-L�andri E, et al.: Analgesic effect of auricular acupuncture for cancer pain: a randomized, blinded, controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 21 (22): 4120-6, 2003.
- Zhang T, Ma SL, Xie GR, et al.: Clinical research on nourishing yin and unblocking meridians recipe combined with opioid analgesics in cancer pain management. Chin J Integr Med 12 (3): 180-4, 2006.
- Li QS, Cao SH, Xie GM, et al.: Combined traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Relieving effects of Chinese herbs, ear-acupuncture and epidural morphine on postoperative pain in liver cancer. Chin Med J (Engl) 107 (4): 289-94, 1994.
- He JP, Friedrich M, Ertan AK, et al.: Pain-relief and movement improvement by acupuncture after ablation and axillary lymphadenectomy in patients with mammary cancer. Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol 26 (2): 81-4, 1999.
- Crew KD, Capodice JL, Greenlee H, et al.: Randomized, blinded, sham-controlled trial of acupuncture for the management of aromatase inhibitor-associated joint symptoms in women with early-stage breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 28 (7): 1154-60, 2010.
- Mehling WE, Jacobs B, Acree M, et al.: Symptom management with massage and acupuncture in postoperative cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. J Pain Symptom Manage 33 (3): 258-66, 2007.
- Crew KD, Capodice JL, Greenlee H, et al.: Pilot study of acupuncture for the treatment of joint symptoms related to adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy in postmenopausal breast cancer patients. J Cancer Surviv 1 (4): 283-91, 2007.
- Vickers AJ: Can acupuncture have specific effects on health? A systematic review of acupuncture antiemesis trials. J R Soc Med 89 (6): 303-11, 1996.
- Ezzo JM, Richardson MA, Vickers A, et al.: Acupuncture-point stimulation for chemotherapy-induced nausea or vomiting. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD002285, 2006.
- Dundee JW, Ghaly RG, Fitzpatrick KT, et al.: Acupuncture prophylaxis of cancer chemotherapy-induced sickness. J R Soc Med 82 (5): 268-71, 1989.
- Dundee JW, Ghaly RG, Fitzpatrick KT, et al.: Optimising antiemesis in cancer chemotherapy. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 294 (6565): 179, 1987.
- Shen J, Wenger N, Glaspy J, et al.: Electroacupuncture for control of myeloablative chemotherapy-induced emesis: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 284 (21): 2755-61, 2000.
- Dundee JW, Yang J, McMillan C: Non-invasive stimulation of the P6 (Neiguan) antiemetic acupuncture point in cancer chemotherapy. J R Soc Med 84 (4): 210-2, 1991.
- Dundee JW, Yang J: Prolongation of the antiemetic action of P6 acupuncture by acupressure in patients having cancer chemotherapy. J R Soc Med 83 (6): 360-2, 1990.
- Aglietti L, Roila F, Tonato M, et al.: A pilot study of metoclopramide, dexamethasone, diphenhydramine and acupuncture in women treated with cisplatin. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 26 (3): 239-40, 1990.
- Dundee JW, McMillan CM: Clinical uses of P6 acupuncture antiemesis. Acupunct Electrother Res 15 (3-4): 211-5, 1990.
- Dundee JW, Ghaly RG, Fitzpatrick KT, et al.: Acupuncture to prevent cisplatin-associated vomiting. Lancet 1 (8541): 1083, 1987.
- Price H, Lewith G, Williams C: Acupressure as an antiemetic in cancer chemotherapy. Complementary Medical Research 5 (2): 93-4.
- Stannard D: Pressure prevents nausea. Nurs Times 85 (4): 33-4, 1989 Jan 25-31.
- McMillan C, Dundee JW, Abram WP: Enhancement of the antiemetic action of ondansetron by transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the P6 antiemetic point, in patients having highly emetic cytotoxic drugs. Br J Cancer 64 (5): 971-2, 1991.
- Roscoe JA, Morrow GR, Hickok JT, et al.: The efficacy of acupressure and acustimulation wrist bands for the relief of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. A University of Rochester Cancer Center Community Clinical Oncology Program multicenter study. J Pain Symptom Manage 26 (2): 731-42, 2003.
- Streitberger K, Friedrich-Rust M, Bardenheuer H, et al.: Effect of acupuncture compared with placebo-acupuncture at P6 as additional antiemetic prophylaxis in high-dose chemotherapy and autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation: a randomized controlled single-blind trial. Clin Cancer Res 9 (7): 2538-44, 2003.
- You Q, Yu H, Wu D, et al.: Vitamin B6 points PC6 injection during acupuncture can relieve nausea and vomiting in patients with ovarian cancer. Int J Gynecol Cancer 19 (4): 567-71, 2009.
- Dibble SL, Luce J, Cooper BA, et al.: Acupressure for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a randomized clinical trial. Oncol Nurs Forum 34 (4): 813-20, 2007.
- Taspinar A, Sirin A: Effect of acupressure on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in gynecologic cancer patients in Turkey. Eur J Oncol Nurs 14 (1): 49-54, 2010.
- Molassiotis A, Helin AM, Dabbour R, et al.: The effects of P6 acupressure in the prophylaxis of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients. Complement Ther Med 15 (1): 3-12, 2007.
- Choo SP, Kong KH, Lim WT, et al.: Electroacupuncture for refractory acute emesis caused by chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med 12 (10): 963-9, 2006.
- Deng G, Vickers A, Yeung S, et al.: Randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients. J Clin Oncol 25 (35): 5584-90, 2007.
- Porzio G, Trapasso T, Martelli S, et al.: Acupuncture in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms in women taking tamoxifen. Tumori 88 (2): 128-30, 2002 Mar-Apr.
- Walker EM, Rodriguez AI, Kohn B, et al.: Acupuncture versus venlafaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 28 (4): 634-40, 2010.
- Beer TM, Benavides M, Emmons SL, et al.: Acupuncture for hot flashes in patients with prostate cancer. Urology 76 (5): 1182-8, 2010.
- Nedstrand E, Wyon Y, Hammar M, et al.: Psychological well-being improves in women with breast cancer after treatment with applied relaxation or electro-acupuncture for vasomotor symptom. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 27 (4): 193-9, 2006.
- Frisk J, Spetz AC, Hjertberg H, et al.: Two Modes of Acupuncture as a Treatment for Hot Flushes in Men with Prostate Cancer-A Prospective Multicenter Study with Long-Term Follow-Up. Eur Urol : , 2008.
- Ashamalla H, Jiang ML, Guirguis A, et al.: Acupuncture for the alleviation of hot flashes in men treated with androgen ablation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 79 (5): 1358-63, 2011.
- de Valois BA, Young TE, Robinson N, et al.: Using traditional acupuncture for breast cancer-related hot flashes and night sweats. J Altern Complement Med 16 (10): 1047-57, 2010.
- Filshie J, Bolton T, Browne D, et al.: Acupuncture and self acupuncture for long-term treatment of vasomotor symptoms in cancer patients--audit and treatment algorithm. Acupunct Med 23 (4): 171-80, 2005.
- Frisk J, Carlh�ll S, K�llstr�m AC, et al.: Long-term follow-up of acupuncture and hormone therapy on hot flushes in women with breast cancer: a prospective, randomized, controlled multicenter trial. Climacteric 11 (2): 166-74, 2008.
- Liljegren A, Gunnarsson P, Landgren BM, et al.: Reducing vasomotor symptoms with acupuncture in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen: a randomized controlled trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat : , 2010.
- Molassiotis A, Sylt P, Diggins H: The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: a randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med 15 (4): 228-37, 2007.
- Johnstone PA, Polston GR, Niemtzow RC, et al.: Integration of acupuncture into the oncology clinic. Palliat Med 16 (3): 235-9, 2002.
- Zhang ZH: Effect of acupuncture on 44 cases of radiation rectitis following radiation therapy for carcinoma of the cervix uteri. J Tradit Chin Med 7 (2): 139-40, 1987.
- Yao W: Prof. Sheng Canruo's experience in acupuncture treatment of throat diseases with yan si xue. J Tradit Chin Med 20 (2): 122-5, 2000.
- Feng RZ: Relief of oesophageal carcinomatous obstruction by acupuncture. J Tradit Chin Med 4 (1): 3-4, 1984.
- Kanakura Y, Niwa K, Kometani K, et al.: Effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for lymphedema following intrapelvic lymph node dissection: a preliminary report. Am J Chin Med 30 (1): 37-43, 2002.
- Ge AX, Ryan ME, Giaccone G, et al.: Acupuncture treatment for persistent hiccups in patients with cancer. J Altern Complement Med 16 (7): 811-6, 2010.
- Meidell L, Holritz Rasmussen B: Acupuncture as an optional treatment for hospice patients with xerostomia: an intervention study. Int J Palliat Nurs 15 (1): 12-20, 2009.