Objective: Breast cancer is the most prevalent malignant neoplasm in women. Optimal treatment frequently includes a hormonal-blockage phase maintained for 5-10 years. Pharmacologic agents used for this blockage induce many climacteric-like symptoms, which often exact a heavy toll on patients’ quality of life. Acupuncture has had promising results for treating climacteric-like symptoms induced by hormonal blockage, but there is no evidence of efficacy for controlling hot flashes.
Materials and Methods: This trial used acupuncture to treat the climacteric-like symptoms of patients with breast cancer, focusing on the mental, physical, and genitourinary symptoms and sleep disturbances, to determine the influence of acupuncture treatment. The randomized placebo-controlled trial, at a university-based cancer center, with blinded data collectors, compared an Acupuncture group (A), a Sham-Acupuncture group (S), and a Wait-List Control group (C). The patients were receiving tamoxifen. Group A had 10 weekly sessions of manual Acupuncture; Group S had 10 weekly sessions of Sham Acupuncture; and Group C spent 10 weeks on a Wait-List. The main outcome measures were the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS).
Results: Primary analysis revealed differences among the groups’ improvements in scores for the 3 questionnaires (P < 0.001), The A group had significant improvements on the BDI-II (P < 0.001), PSQI (P < 0.002), and MRS (P < 0.004) compared to the S group in a post hoc analysis.
Conclusions: Acupuncture improved sleep, and mental and emotional distress symptoms induced by hormonal blockage in patients with breast cancer.