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Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Date:6/1/2008

n dry mouth. "Five people in the acupuncture group had improvements as opposed to none in the usual-care arm," Pfister said.

A second study presented Saturday at the meeting found the narcolepsy drug Provigil (modafinil) provided significant relief for patients suffering from chemotherapy-related fatigue.

The drug is usually prescribed to sleep-related disorders. "These are basically non-amphetamine-based stimulants. They don't have the same type of typical problems that amphetamines do," explained study author Dr. Gary Morrow, associate director for community research at the University of Rochester Cancer Center.

Fatigue is a leading complaint of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Some nine out of 10 patients polled said they expected to experience this side effect, close to the percentage that actually do.

"The majority of patients expected fatigue and, unfortunately, they're right," Morrow said.

In this group of 631 patients, Provigil had a significant effect on excessive tiredness, and the effect was greater among patients who started out with more fatigue.

"The payoff was among patients who had severe fatigue," Morrow said. "It was numerically different but not statistically different for people who had mild or moderate fatigue. Modafinil appears useful to treat severe fatigue. If found again through pivotal studies submitted through proper regulatory authorities, it might take place in the armamentarium."

More information

Visit the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for more on this therapy.



SOURCES: May 31, 2008, news conference with David Pfister, M.D., chief, head and neck medical oncology service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, and Gary Morrow, Ph.D., associate director, community research, University of Rochester C
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