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Research: Cancer


May 2010
Acupuncture for Pain and Dysfunction After Neck Dissection: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal of Clinical Oncology, May 20, 2010, Volume 28, Issue 15, pages 2565-2570
PURPOSE: To determine whether acupuncture reduces pain and dysfunction in patients with cancer with a history of neck dissection. The secondary objective is to determine whether acupuncture relieves dry mouth in this population.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients at a tertiary cancer center with chronic pain or dysfunction attributed to neck dissection were randomly assigned to weekly acupuncture versus usual care (eg, physical therapy, analgesia, and/or anti-inflammatory drugs, per patient preference or physician recommendation) for 4 weeks. The Constant-Murley score, a composite measure of pain, function, and activities of daily living, was the primary outcome measure. Xerostomia, a secondary end point, was assessed using the Xerostomia Inventory.
RESULTS: Fifty-eight evaluable patients were accrued and randomly assigned from 2004 to 2007 (28 and 30 patients on acupuncture and control arms, respectively). Constant-Murley scores improved more in the acupuncture group (adjusted difference between groups = 11.2; 95% CI, 3.0 to 19.3; P = .008). Acupuncture produced greater improvement in reported xerostomia (adjusted difference in Xerostomia Inventory = -5.8; 95% CI, -0.9 to -10.7; P = .02).
CONCLUSION: Significant reductions in pain, dysfunction, and xerostomia were observed in patients receiving acupuncture versus usual care. Although further study is needed, these data support the potential role of acupuncture in addressing post-neck dissection pain and dysfunction, as well as xerostomia.

April 2010
Rhodiola Algida Improves Chemotherapy-induced Oral Mucositis in Breast Cancer Patients
Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, April 2010, Suppl 1, S91-S100
OBJECTIVE: Oral ulcerative mucositis, a common adverse effect due to mainstream cytotoxic drugs, limits the nutritional intake of cancer patients. Rhodiola algida is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate the immune system. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of this herbal extract on healthy human lymphocytes in vitro, the homeostasis of cancer patients and the healing time of oral ulcers. METHOD: The constituents of Rhodiola algida were analyzed by RP-HPLC. Lymphocytes isolated from 462 healthy subjects were treated with 100 ug/ml Rhodiola algida for 48 h. The activity of the cells was measured by cell proliferation reagent and ATP assay. The level of various cytokines and mRNA content of lymphocytes were determined. Rhodiola algida demonstrated no toxicity in animals, which had been orally fed with 1 mg/ml Rhodiola algida for 30 days. 130 breast cancer patients from Huaxi Hospital of Sichuan University were recruited between 2006 and 2007. They received four cycles of 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide after modified total mastectomy. These patients were randomly assigned to test and control groups. Rhodiola algida mixture was consumed by the test group for 14 consecutive days after each cycle of chemotherapy. All patients were given 0.2% chlorohexidine mouth wash to be used every day. Complete blood counts, liver and renal function tests together with the number and size of oral ulcerations were analyzed after each cycle. Weight loss, complaints of nausea or vomiting and degree of pain were noted. RESULTS: The optimal concentration of Rhodiola algida favored the proliferation of lymphocytes. The levels of IL-2, IL-4, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and the mRNA content of these cytokines were also enhanced. White blood cell (WBC) levels returned to normal range in both groups 1 week after every cycle of chemotherapy. WBC count increased faster in patients using Rhodiola algida; they presented with smaller and fewer oral ulcers. There were no liver or renal complications observed in any patients. CONCLUSION: Rhodiola algida increases immunity of patients who are receiving chemotherapy post mastectomy and decreases the quantity of oral ulcers. Thus Rhodiola algida has the potential to be used concurrently with chemotherapy to alleviate the occurrence of oral ulcers.

March 2010
Randomized, Blinded, Sham-controlled Trial of Acupuncture for the Management of Aromatase Inhibitor-associated Joint Symptoms in Women with Early-stage Breast Cancer
Journal of Clinical Oncology, March 1, 2010, Volume 28, Issue 7, pages 1154-1160
PURPOSE Women with breast cancer (BC) treated with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) may experience joint symptoms that can lead to discontinuation of effective therapy. We examined whether acupuncture improves AI-induced arthralgias in women with early-stage BC. METHODS We conducted a randomized, controlled, blinded study comparing true acupuncture (TA) versus sham acupuncture (SA) twice weekly for 6 weeks in postmenopuasal women with BC who had self-reported musculoskeletal pain related to AIs. TA included full body/auricular acupuncture and joint-specific point prescriptions, whereas SA involved superficial needle insertion at nonacupoint locations. Outcome measures included the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI-SF), Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and Modified Score for the Assessment of Chronic Rheumatoid Affections of the Hands (M-SACRAH) obtained at baseline and at 3 and 6 weeks. Results Of 51 women enrolled, 43 women were randomly assigned and 38 were evaluable. Baseline characteristics were comparable between the two groups. Our primary end point was the difference in mean BPI-SF worst pain scores at 6 weeks, which was lower for TA compared with SA (3.0 v 5.5; P < .001). We also found differences between TA and SA in pain severity (2.6 v 4.5; P = .003) and pain-related interference (2.5 v 4.5; P = .002) at 6 weeks. Similar findings were seen for the WOMAC and M-SACRAH scores. The acupuncture intervention was well-tolerated. CONCLUSION Women with AI-induced arthralgias treated with TA had significant improvement of joint pain and stiffness, which was not seen with SA. Acupuncture is an effective and well-tolerated strategy for managing this common treatment-related side effect.

February 2010
Acupuncture Versus Venlafaxine for the Management of Vasomotor Symptoms in Patients with Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal of Clinical Oncology;
Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 634-640.
PURPOSE: Vasomotor symptoms are common adverse effects of antiestrogen hormone treatment in conventional breast cancer care. Hormone replacement therapy is contraindicated in patients with breast cancer. Venlafaxine (Effexor), the therapy of choice for these symptoms, has numerous adverse effects. Recent studies suggest acupuncture may be effective in reducing vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women. This randomized controlled trial tested whether acupuncture reduces vasomotor symptoms and produces fewer adverse effects than venlafaxine. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Fifty patients were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of acupuncture (n = 25) or venlafaxine (n = 25) treatment. Health outcomes were measured for up to 1 year post-treatment. RESULTS: Both groups exhibited significant decreases in hot flashes, depressive symptoms, and other quality-of-life symptoms, including significant improvements in mental health from pre- to post-treatment. These changes were similar in both groups, indicating that acupuncture was as effective as venlafaxine. By 2 weeks post-treatment, the venlafaxine group experienced significant increases in hot flashes, whereas hot flashes in the acupuncture group remained at low levels. The venlafaxine group experienced 18 incidences of adverse effects (eg, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety), whereas the acupuncture group experienced no negative adverse effects. Acupuncture had the additional benefit of increased sex drive in some women, and most reported an improvement in their energy, clarity of thought, and sense of well-being. CONCLUSION: Acupuncture appears to be equivalent to drug therapy in these patients. It is a safe, effective and durable treatment for vasomotor symptoms secondary to long-term antiestrogen hormone use in patients with breast cancer.


October 2009
Effect of Haisehngsu [Chinese Herbal Medicine] as an Adjunct Therapy for Patients with Advanced Renal Cell Cancer: A Randomized and Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine;
Volume 15, Issue 10, pages 1127-1130.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of Haishengsu, an extract from Tegillarca L. granosa, on the effects and side-effects of immunotherapy in patients with advanced renal cell cancer. METHODS: Fifty-five (55) patients with renal cell cancer were randomly divided into a Haishengsu group (n = 27, 2.4 mg, intravenously for 15 days) and a control group (n = 28). All patients were also treated with interleukin-2, interferon-alpha, and fluorouracil. RESULTS: In the Haishengsu group, the prevalence of gastrointestinal reactions to the immunotherapy was lower than in the control group (18.5% versus 64.3%, p < 0.01). In comparison with the control group, more patients from the Haishengsu group had increased food intake (74.1% versus 14.3%, p < 0.01), weight gain (77.8% versus 10.7%, p < 0.01) or an increase in Karnofsky Performance Status score (55.6% versus 17.9%, p < 0.01). The remission rate of cancer in the Haishengsu group was higher than in the control group (51.9% and 21.4%, p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Addition of Haishengsu to the conventional immunotherapy is associated with an increased remission rate in patients with advanced renal cell cancer. Haishengsu was also associated with a reduced rate of gastrointestinal side-effects from the immunotherapeutic agents, and an improvement in the physical functionality of the patients.


September 2009
Is there a role for complementary therapy in the management of leukemia?
Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy;
Volume 9, Issue 9, pages 1241-1249.
Patients with leukemia often seek additional treatments not prescribed by their oncologist in an effort to improve their cancer treatment outcome or to manage symptoms. Complementary therapies are used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments to decrease symptoms and side effects associated with cancer or cancer treatment, and to improve patients' overall quality of life. Complementary therapies are distinct from so-called 'alternative' therapies, which are unproven, ineffective and may postpone or interfere with mainstream cancer treatment. Complementary therapies are pleasant, inexpensive, nonpharmacologic and effective. For patients with leukemia, the complementary therapies that are always appropriate include mind-body interventions, such as self-hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery and breath awareness. Massage and reflexology (foot massage) decrease symptoms with effects lasting at least 2 days following treatment. Acupuncture is very beneficial for symptom management without adverse consequences. Physical fitness with regular exercise and healthy dietary habits can significantly decrease side effects of cancer treatments and may prolong survival. Botanical extracts and vitamin supplements may interfere with active cancer treatments, and should be discussed with the oncologist or pharmacist before use.

October 2008

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Patients: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
Journal: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, October 7, 2008.
Abstract: Acupuncture has been used to treat the problem of hot flashes in healthy postmenopausal women. The object of this study was to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture in women with breast cancer suffering from hot flashes as a result of anti-oestrogen medication. In a prospective, controlled trial, 59 women suffering from hot flashes following breast cancer surgery and adjuvant oestrogen-antagonist treatment (Tamoxifen) were randomized to either 10 weeks of traditional Chinese acupuncture or sham acupuncture (SA). Mean number of hot flashes at day and night were recorded prior to treatment, during the treatment period as well as during the 12 weeks following treatment. A validated health score (Kupperman index) was conducted at baseline, at the end of the treatment period and at 12 weeks following treatment. During the treatment period mean number of hot flashes at day and night was significantly reduced by 50 and almost 60%, respectively from baseline in the acupuncture group, and was further reduced by 30% both at day and night during the next 12 weeks. In the sham acupuncture group a significant reduction of 25% in hot flashes at day was seen during treatment, but was reversed during the following 12 weeks. No reduction was seen in hot flashes at night. Kupperman index was reduced by 44% from baseline to the end of the treatment period in the acupuncture group, and largely maintained 12 weeks after treatment ended. No corresponding changes were seen in the sham acupuncture group. Acupuncture seems to provide effective relief from hot flashes both day and night in women operated for breast cancer, treated with Tamoxifen. This treatment effect seems to coincide with a general health improvement measured with the validated Kupperman index.

August 2008
The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care
Journal: Hemtology & Oncology Clinics of North America, Volume 22, Issue 4, pages 631-648.
Abstract: Clinical research on acupuncture in cancer care is a new and challenging field in oncology. The results of clinical research will continue to provide clinically relevant answers for patients and oncologists. The evidence currently available has suggested that acupuncture is a safe and effective therapy to manage cancer and treatment related symptoms, while giving patients the ability to actively participate in their own care plan. The article explains the potential benefits of acupuncture and describes the difficulties in studying its effectiveness.

June 2008
Manual Acupuncture Improved Quality of Life in Cancer Patients with Radiation-Induced Xerostomia
Journal: Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, June 4, 2008.
Abstract: Purpose: Radiotherapy-induced xerostomia seriously reduces the quality of life (QOL) for patients with head and neck cancer. This study aimed to investigate the effects of manual acupuncture on objective and subjective assessment of symptom changes in patients with cancer who have with radiation-induced xerostomia. Materials and methods: Twelve (12) patients with radiation-induced xerostomia were randomized into 2 groups (real or sham acupuncture). Acupuncture was conducted twice weekly for 6 weeks in a single-blind setting. The effect was evaluated by measuring whole salivary flow rates (stimulated and unstimulated) and questionnaire-based assessment of subjective symptoms pre- and post-treatment (3 and 6 weeks after acupuncture treatment). Results: Both groups showed a slight increase in whole salivary flow rates, with no significant difference between them. However, real acupuncture markedly increased unstimulated salivary flow rates, and improved the score for dry mouth according to the xerostomia questionnaire, by 2.33 points versus 0.33 in the controls. Conclusions: Our results showed the significantly meaningful amelioration of the subjective sensation of xerostomia closely associated with QOL in patients with head and neck cancer treated with irradiation.


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