Very positive reports on the use of acupuncture to manage cancer symptoms with conventional treatment came from a symposium on Acupuncture for Cancer Symptom Management that was held by The Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on June 16 and 17, 2016. They included:
- When acupuncture is combined with pharmaceutical treatment it can be more effective treating cancer-related pain than pharmacotherapy alone.
- Acupuncture relieves pain in cancer patients with aromatase inhibitor-associated arthralgia. The effect on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is mixed with more information needed on the timing, dosing, and mode of acupuncture for that type of pain.
- A short course of acupuncture appears to reduce fatigue for most patients, prolonged acupuncture, however, does not have additional benefit for fatigue.
- Evidence of acupuncture’s effect on hot flashes is too limited to recommend for or against its use to treat this symptom.
- Acupuncture to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is widely accepted, its effectiveness should be evaluated against new anti-emetic guidelines.
- Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on the prevention and treatment of radiation-induced xerostomia.
- The symposium identified ten key areas to address to accelerate understanding of and build the evidence base for the use of acupuncture to treat cancer symptoms.