Both real and sham weekly acupuncture treatments eased hot flashes and other side effects of anticancer drug treatment in a small, preliminary study of breast cancer patients, Baltimore researchers have found.
The results, they say, add to previous reports that even the sensation of skin pricks used to simulate genuine acupuncture needle sticks might be enough to generate natural chemicals that improve symptoms.
Investigators at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center set out to see if acupuncture could reduce the severity of side effects linked to aromatase inhibitors (AI), drugs used to treat breast cancer or prevent it from recurring after surgery. Because AIs block estrogen synthesis in postmenopausal patients, they can cause moderate to severe hot flashes, similar to those experienced during menopause, and musculoskeletal problems, such as joint and muscle pain.
For the study, investigators enrolled 47 postmenopausal women with stage 0 through III hormone receptor-positive breast cancer who had been receiving AI therapy for at least a month and who reported some AI-associated musculoskeletal symptoms. Patients were randomly assigned to receive eight weekly real or sham acupuncture treatments; 23 patients received real acupuncture and 24 received sham acupuncture.
In addition, the research team collected weekly hot-flash diaries during weeks 0 through 8 and in week 12. Other questionnaires addressing menopausal symptoms, mood, sleep quality, depression, anxiety and quality of life were collected at the study's start and four, eight and 12 weeks later.
Among those receiving real acupuncture, researchers said there were statistically significant improvements in depression, hot-flash severity and frequency, hot flash-related daily interference and other menopausal symptoms. Among those receiving sham acupuncture, researchers noted statistically significan
|Contact: Vanessa Wasta|
Johns Hopkins Medicine