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Table 4. Clinical Studies of Acupuncture: Vasomotor Symptomsa

Reference Citation(s)  Type of Study  Condition Treated  No. of Patients: Enrolled; Treated; Controlb Strongest Benefit Reportedc Concurrent Therapy (Yes/No/ Unknown)d Level of Evidence Scoree 
[43]RCTHot flashes in breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors72; 42; 30Reduction of hot flashes but no statistical difference between acupuncture and sham treatmentYes (SSRIs)1iiC
[52]RCTHot flushes45; 27 EA; 18 hormone therapyVasomotor symptoms improvedUnknown1iiC
[45]RCTHot flashes50; 25; 25Vasomotor symptoms improvedYes (tamoxifen or arimidex)1iiC
[53]RCTHot flashes in breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen84; 74; noneDecrease in severity and frequency in hot flushes and sweatingYes (tamoxifen)1iiC
[44]Phase I pilot studyMenopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen15; 15 acupuncture; noneAnxiety, depression, and somatic and vasomotor symptoms improvedfNo3iiiC
[46]Pilot study/case seriesHot flashes in patients with prostate cancer25; 22; none55% treatment for hot flashesNo3iiiC
[9]Nonconsecutive case seriesNight sweats, hot flashes in patients with cancer6; 6 acupuncture; noneSymptoms improvedYes (not specified)3iiiC
[51]Nonconsecutive case seriesVasomotor symptoms for breast and prostate cancer194; 194; none79% showed 50% or greater reduction in hot flashesNo3iiiC
[49]Nonconsecutive case seriesVasomotor symptoms for prostate cancer17; 14; noneDecreased hot flashesYes (androgen ablation therapy)3iiiC
[50]Prospective case seriesHot flashes and night sweats54; 50; noneDecreased hot flashes and night sweats and improved physical and emotional well-beingYes (tamoxifen)3iiiC

EA = electroacupuncture; No. = number; RCT = randomized controlled trial; SSRIs = selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
aRefer to text and the NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms for additional information and definition of terms.
bNumber of patients treated plus number of patient controls may not equal number of patients enrolled; number of patients enrolled equals number of patients initially considered by the researcher who conducted a study; number of patients treated equals number of enrolled patients who were given the treatment being studied AND for whom results were reported.
cStrongest evidence reported that the treatment under study has anticancer activity or otherwise improves the well-being of cancer patients.
dConcurrent therapy for symptoms treated (not cancer).
eFor information about levels of evidence analysis and an explanation of the level of evidence scores, refer to Levels of Evidence for Human Studies of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
f P < .001, versus baseline.


  1. Niemtzow RC: Integration of complementary disciplines into the oncology clinic. Part I. Acupuncture. Curr Probl Cancer 24 (4): 184-93, 2000 Jul-Aug.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Deng G, Vickers A, Yeung S, et al.: Randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients. J Clin Oncol 25 (35): 5584-90, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Porzio G, Trapasso T, Martelli S, et al.: Acupuncture in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms in women taking tamoxifen. Tumori 88 (2): 128-30, 2002 Mar-Apr.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Walker EM, Rodriguez AI, Kohn B, et al.: Acupuncture versus venlafaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 28 (4): 634-40, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Beer TM, Benavides M, Emmons SL, et al.: Acupuncture for hot flashes in patients with prostate cancer. Urology 76 (5): 1182-8, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Ashamalla H, Jiang ML, Guirguis A, et al.: Acupuncture for the alleviation of hot flashes in men treated with androgen ablation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 79 (5): 1358-63, 2011.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. de Valois BA, Young TE, Robinson N, et al.: Using traditional acupuncture for breast cancer-related hot flashes and night sweats. J Altern Complement Med 16 (10): 1047-57, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Filshie J, Bolton T, Browne D, et al.: Acupuncture and self acupuncture for long-term treatment of vasomotor symptoms in cancer patients--audit and treatment algorithm. Acupunct Med 23 (4): 171-80, 2005.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Frisk J, Carlhäll S, Källström AC, et al.: Long-term follow-up of acupuncture and hormone therapy on hot flushes in women with breast cancer: a prospective, randomized, controlled multicenter trial. Climacteric 11 (2): 166-74, 2008.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Liljegren A, Gunnarsson P, Landgren BM, et al.: Reducing vasomotor symptoms with acupuncture in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen: a randomized controlled trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat 135 (3): 791-8, 2012.  [PUBMED Abstract]