Barcelona, Spain: Despite widespread belief among cancer patients and health care professionals that acupuncture helps relieve nausea caused by cancer treatment, new research in radiotherapy has found it does not.
The study, presented today (Wednesday) at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Barcelona, evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in 215 patients with various types of cancer who got either active acupuncture or a sham treatment that involved an identical looking and feeling needle that retracted into the handle on contact with the skin.
The treatment, in the forearm, was given two or three times a week during the whole period of radiotherapy, which is a common schedule. The patients documented their nausea and vomiting in diaries and completed questionnaires during and after the radiotherapy course.
Both groups of patients reported they believed the treatment had been invasive and effective in reducing nausea. However, 68 percent of patients who got the acupuncture experienced nausea for an average of 19 days during radiotherapy and 61 percent of the patients who got the sham treatment suffered nausea for an average of 17 days, said the studys lead researcher Anna Enblom, a physiotherapist and doctoral student at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Linkping University in Sweden.
Vomiting was experienced by 24 percent of the patients getting acupuncture and 28 percent of patients receiving the sham treatment, Enblom added.
Fifty-eight of the patients received chemotherapy in combination with radiotherapy. Among them, 82 percent of those in the acupuncture group developed nausea, compared with 80 percent of those treated with the sham needles.
There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in the number of days with nausea or vomiting or in the intensity of the nausea, neither in the patients receiving radiotherapy alone, nor in those receiving a combination of che
|Contact: Emma Ross|
ECCO-the European CanCer Conference