Cancer pain? Although symptoms of cancer are often described by side-effects from chemotherapy- (e.g., nausea, vomiting, etc.) pain from cancer is a real and debilitating symptom for one out of three people undergoing cancer treatment.
Cancer pain can occur when:
- a tumor presses on bones, nerves, or body organs
- if cancer has travelled into the bone
- after cancer surgery
- treatment causes peripheral neuropathy
- radiation has caused injury
Acupuncture & Cancer Pain
Current research published in the journal of Integrated Cancer Therapies (Garcia et al., 2013) reports findings from a feasibility study using acupuncture to treat cancer pain. The study design was a single-arm, nonrandomized pilot study.
Patients were recruited from the Pain Management Center at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Patients could have any type of cancer or stage of disease, but must have a pain level equal to or greater than 4 on a 0 to 10 scale to be eligible.
Participants completed the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form and the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory at baseline and upon the completion of the study. Ten auricular and body acupuncture treatments (one to three per week) were provided to 52 patients who completed the full study. Some patients received electro-acupuncture based upon practitioner assessment.
Results: “Mean pain severity was 6.0 ± 1.3 at baseline and 3.8 ± 2.0 at follow-up (P < .0001). Pain interference was 6.2 ± 2.3 at baseline and 4.3 ± 2.8 at follow-up (P < .0011). On the MDASI, the mean symptom severity was 4.6 ± 1.8 at baseline and 3.2 ± 1.9 at follow-up (P < .0001), and mean symptom interference was 5.8 ± 2.4 at baseline and 4.1 ± 2.9 at follow-up (P < .002). Prescribed pain medications decreased across the course of the study.
Patient satisfaction was high: 87% reported that their expectations were met “very well” or “extremely well”; 90% said they were likely to participate again; 95% said they were likely to recommend acupuncture to others; and 90% reported they found the service to be “useful” or “very useful.”
Conclusions. Acupuncture was feasible, safe, and a helpful treatment adjunct for cancer patients experiencing uncontrolled pain in this study. Randomized placebo-controlled trials are needed to confirm these results.”
To view the full publication to read more about the measures, results, and discussion click here: cancerpain
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Garcia, M. K., Driver, L., Haddad, R., Lee, R., Palmer, J. L., Wei, Q., … & Cohen, L. (2013). Acupuncture for Treatment of Uncontrolled Pain in Cancer Patients: A Pragmatic Pilot Study. Integrative cancer therapies, 1534735413510558.