Sunday, August 23, 2009

Acupuncture and Cancer

A couple of new studies have appeared concerning the effect of acupuncture treatment on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and side effects of radiation or chemotherapy treatment. I am happy more of the studies are looking not just at sham acupuncture vs. real acupuncture vs. no acupuncture, but actually looking at the longevity of the therapies used. Here are a couple of abstracts:

Breast Cancer; New breast cancer research from J. Hervik and colleagues discussed

In a prospective, controlled trial, 59 women suffering from hot flashes following breast cancer surgery and adjuvant oestrogen-antagonist treatment (Tamoxifen) were randomized to either 10 weeks of traditional Chinese acupuncture or shamacupuncture (SA). Mean number of hot flashes at day and night were recorded prior to treatment, during the treatment period as well as during the 12 weeks following treatment. A validated health score (Kupperman index) was conducted at baseline, at the end of the treatment period and at 12 weeks following treatment. During the treatment period mean number of hot flashes at day and night was significantly reduced by 50 and almost 60%, respectively from baseline in the acupuncture group, and was further reduced by 30% both at day and night during the next 12 weeks. In the sham acupuncture group a significant reduction of 25% in hot flashes at day was seen during treatment, but was reversed during the following 12 weeks. The researchers concluded: "This treatment effect seems to coincide with a general health improvement measured with the validated Kupperman index."

Hervik and colleagues published the results of their research in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (Acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients, a randomized, controlled trial. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 2009;116(2):311-316).

Ovarian Cancer; New ovarian cancer research from W.D. Lu and colleagues discussed

A standardized acupuncture protocol was employed with manual and electrostimulation. The frequency of treatment was 2-3 times per week for a total of 10 sessions, starting 1 week before the second cycle of chemotherapy. The setting was two outpatient academic centers for patients with cancer. Twenty-one (21) newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian cancer patients were the subjects. WBC count, ANC, and plasma granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) were assessed weekly. The median leukocyte value in the acupuncture arm at the first day of the third cycle of chemotherapy was significantly higher than in the control arm after adjusting for baseline value (8600 cells/mu L, range: 4800 12,000 versus 4400 cell/mu L, range: 2300-10,000) (p=0.046). The incidence of grade 2-4 leukopenia was less in the acupuncture arm than in the sham arm (30% versus 90%; p=0.02). However, the median leukocyte nadir, neutrophil nadir, and recovering ANC were all higher but not statistically significantly different (p=0.116-0.16), after adjusting for baseline differences. The researchers concluded: "A larger trial is warranted to more definitively determine the efficacy of acupuncture on clinically important outcomes of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia.."

Lu and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (Acupuncture for Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia in Patients with Gynecologic Malignancies: A Pilot Randomized, Sham-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2009;15(7):745-753).

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