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Table 5. Clinical Studies of Acupuncture: Radiation-induced Xerostomiaa

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 
[61]RCTRadiation-induced xerostomia12; 12; sham: non-active acupuncture points located 2 cm away from real pointsImproved symptomsUnknown1iiC
[60]RCTRadiation-induced xerostomia38; 20; 18Increased salivary flow ratesUnknown1iiC
[63]RCTXerostomia21; 11; 10Increased salivary flow ratesUnknown1iiC
[56]RCTRadiation-induced xerostomia23; 11; 12Increased salivary flow ratesUnknown1iiC
[56]RCTRadiation-induced xerostomia86; 40; 46Symptoms improvedUnknown1iiC
[58]RCT with crossoverRadiation-induced xerostomia145; 75; 70Symptoms improvedNo1iiC
[64]Pilot studyRadiation-induced xerostomia20; 19; noneImproved symptomsUnknown2C
[65]CTRadiation-induced xerostomia12; 12; noneSymptoms improvedUnknown2C
[66]CTRadiation-induced xerostomia12; 12; noneSymptoms improvedUnknown2C
[67]CTRadiation-induced xerostomia18; 18; noneReduced xerostomiaYes (pilocarpine)2C
[62]CTXerostomia70; 21; noneReduced xerostomiaUnknown2C
[68]CTXerostomia17; 14; noneIncreased salivary flow ratesUnknown2C
[69]CTXerostomia20; 20; noneSymptoms improvedUnknown2C
[70]CTXerostomia17; 10; noneIncreased salivary flow ratesUnknown2C
[71]Nonconsecutive case seriesXerostomia14; 8 acupuncture; noneSymptoms improvedNo3iiiC
[9]Nonconsecutive case seriesXerostomia after radiation therapy in patients with cancer13; 13 acupuncture; noneSymptoms improvedYes (not specified)3iiiC

CT = controlled trial; No. = number; RCT = randomized controlled trial.
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.


  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. Meng Z, Garcia MK, Hu C, et al.: Randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for prevention of radiation-induced xerostomia among patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Cancer 118 (13): 3337-44, 2012.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Simcock R, Fallowfield L, Monson K, et al.: ARIX: a randomised trial of acupuncture v oral care sessions in patients with chronic xerostomia following treatment of head and neck cancer. Ann Oncol 24 (3): 776-83, 2013.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Blom M, Dawidson I, Fernberg JO, et al.: Acupuncture treatment of patients with radiation-induced xerostomia. Eur J Cancer B Oral Oncol 32B (3): 182-90, 1996.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Cho JH, Chung WK, Kang W, et al.: Manual acupuncture improved quality of life in cancer patients with radiation-induced xerostomia. J Altern Complement Med 14 (5): 523-6, 2008.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Blom M, Lundeberg T: Long-term follow-up of patients treated with acupuncture for xerostomia and the influence of additional treatment. Oral Dis 6 (1): 15-24, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Blom M, Dawidson I, Angmar-Månsson B: Acupuncture treatment of xerostomia caused by irradiation of the head and neck region: case reports. J Oral Rehabil 20 (5): 491-4, 1993.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Garcia MK, Chiang JS, Cohen L, et al.: Acupuncture for radiation-induced xerostomia in patients with cancer: a pilot study. Head Neck 31 (10): 1360-8, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. Simcock R, Fallowfield L, Jenkins V: Group acupuncture to relieve radiation induced xerostomia: a feasibility study. Acupunct Med 27 (3): 109-13, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  10. Braga FP, Sugaya NN, Hirota SK, et al.: The effect of acupuncture on salivary flow rates in patients with radiation-induced xerostomia. Minerva Stomatol 57 (7-8): 343-8, 2008 Jul-Aug.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  11. Johnstone PA, Peng YP, May BC, et al.: Acupuncture for pilocarpine-resistant xerostomia following radiotherapy for head and neck malignancies. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 50 (2): 353-7, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  12. Dawidson I, Angmar-Mânsson B, Blom M, et al.: Sensory stimulation (acupuncture) increases the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide in the saliva of xerostomia sufferers. Neuropeptides 33 (3): 244-50, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  13. Rydholm M, Strang P: Acupuncture for patients in hospital-based home care suffering from xerostomia. J Palliat Care 15 (4): 20-3, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  14. Dawidson I, Angmar-Månsson B, Blom M, et al.: Sensory stimulation (acupuncture) increases the release of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide in the saliva of xerostomia sufferers. Neuropeptides 32 (6): 543-8, 1998.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  15. Meidell L, Holritz Rasmussen B: Acupuncture as an optional treatment for hospice patients with xerostomia: an intervention study. Int J Palliat Nurs 15 (1): 12-20, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]