However, more than 200 of the patients also were randomly chosen to undergo weekly 20-minute acupuncture sessions that involved needle placement at three different entry points.
By the end of the six-week period, those who had received acupuncture appeared to fare better on every measure of fatigue that the team assessed.
Specifically, those in the acupuncture group reported feeling notably better than the "usual-care" group in terms of overall fatigue, physical and mental fatigue, anxiety and depression levels, functional well-being, emotional well-being, social functioning, and overall quality of life.
"Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that not only can have direct effects on the symptom experience of patients, but also ... provide the opportunity [for] patients to be more involved with their symptom management and empower them more," Molassiotis said. "Patients also like 'natural' and 'traditional' approaches to health management."
"[However], we still do not understand how acupuncture may work to manage fatigue," he acknowledged. "Within the results may also be a so-called placebo effect, which is common in many complementary therapies. So in future work we need to look into objective and physiological outcome measures, too, although the patient-reported outcomes used in the current trial are equally very important."
Dr. Laura Kruper, director of the Cooper-Finkel Women's Health Center and chief of the breast surgery service at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., described the British effort as both "well done" and "strong."
"Acupuncture has been used in a variety of settings within medicine, such as to control chemotherapy-related nausea, post-operative nausea, migraines and chronic pain," she said. "It is still not exactly known how acupuncture works
All rights reserved