Acupuncture improves peripheral neuropathy in chemotherapy patients

Background: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common, debilitating adverse effect of neurotoxic chemotherapy that significantly worsens cancer survivors’ quality of life.

Materials and methods: Solid tumor survivors with persistent moderate-to-severe CIPN defined as numbness, tingling, or pain rated ≥4 on an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS) were randomized in a 1:1:1 ratio to eight weeks of real acupuncture (RA) versus sham acupuncture (SA) versus usual care (UC). We previously reported the primary endpoint (NRS); here we report health-related quality of life endpoints: Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy/Gynecologic Oncology Group-Neurotoxicity (FACT/GOG-Ntx), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI). For each endpoint, the mean changes from baseline and 95% confidence intervals were estimated within each arm and compared between arms using linear mixed models.

Results: We enrolled 75 solid tumor survivors with moderate to severe CIPN into the study. Compared to baseline, at week 8, FACT/GOG-Ntx, HADS anxiety, and ISI scores significantly improved in RA and SA, but not in UC. Compared to UC, at week 8, FACT/GOG-Ntx scores significantly increased in RA and SA arms indicating improved CIPN-related symptoms and quality of life (p=0.001 and p=0.01). There was no statistically significant difference between RA and SA. There was no difference in HADS depression or BFI among RA, SA, and UC at weeks 8 and 12.

Conclusion: Acupuncture may improve CIPN-related symptoms and quality of life in cancer survivors with persistent CIPN. Further large sample size studies are needed to delineate placebo effects.


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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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