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Acupuncture Improves Quality of Life for Breast Cancer Patients

October 20, 2014

A recent study from the Perelman School of Medicine in Pennsylvania shows that electroacupuncture (EA) provides significant quality of life improvements among breast cancer patients taking drugs to prevent recurrence.

The use of electroacupuncture (EA) – a form of acupuncture in where a small electric current is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles – has been found to produce significant improvements in fatigue, anxiety, and depression in as little as eight weeks for early stage breast cancer patients experiencing joint pain related to the use of aromatase inhibitors (AIs) to treat breast cancer. According to Jun Mao, MD MSCE, lead author and associate professor of Family Medicine and Community Health in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, these results provide an opportunity to offer patients one treatment that may target multiple symptoms, as many patients experience pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression simultaneously.

In the 8-week randomized, placebo-controlled trial, researchers evaluated the short-term effects and safety of EA for AI-related joint pain and other side effects, compared with sham acupuncture (SA) and usual care. Study participants were randomly assigned to receive EA, SA, or usual care. Results showed that compared with usual care, patients receiving EA had a greater reduction in fatigue score at week 8 and reported significant improvement in their anxiety score by week 12 (while SA did not). Patients in both EA and SA groups reported significant improvement in Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) Depression scores by week 8 compared to usual care.

“The study found that acupuncture helps reduce the symptoms [of fatigue, sleep, and psychological distress in patients in patients with AI-related join pain]” and “the effects persist for at least 4 weeks following the treatment,” said Mao. "However, studies with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up periods are needed to provide more in-depth knowledge about how these treatments, combined with usual care, are improving quality of life for patients.”

To read the full article on ScienceDaily, click here.

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