Study evaluates clinical evidence of acupuncture, acupressure for cancer pain


Acupuncture and acupressure may be associated with improved cancer pain management compared with a sham intervention or analgesic therapy alone, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Oncology.

For the study, researchers reviewed 17 randomized clinical trials with 1,111 patients and meta-analysis of 14 trials with 920 patients in current English-language and Chinese-language literature. Studies evaluated included randomized clinical trials that compared acupuncture and acupressure with a sham control, analgesic therapy, or usual care for managing cancer pain.

Data were screened and extracted independently using predesigned forms. The quality of RCTs was appraised with the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool. Random-effects modeling was used to calculate the effect sizes of included RCTs. The quality of evidence was evaluated with the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach.

The researchers found a significant association was found between acupuncture and reduced pain, and acupuncture combined with analgesic therapy was associated with decreased analgesic use. However, heterogeneity lowered the level of certainty of the evidence.

Further, researchers said the findings suggests that more rigorous trials are needed to identify the association of acupuncture and acupressure with specific types of cancer pain and to integrate such evidence into clinical care to reduce opioid use.