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Table 6. Clinical Studies of Acupuncture: For Other Cancer-related Symptoms or Cancer Treatment–related Side Effectsa

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 
[1]RCTSymptoms of weight loss, cough, thoracodynia, hemoptysis, fever, and side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy76; 38 acupuncture; 38 no acupunctureWeight gain, symptom relief, fewer side effectsf No1iiC
[54]RCTCancer-related fatigue47; 31; 16Improved fatigue levelsNo1iiC
[44]Nonconsecutive case series, surveyed retrospectivelyUnspecified symptoms (including pain, xerostomia, hot flashes, nausea/loss of appetite) from cancer or cancer treatment79; 79 traditional Chinese acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, percutaneous nerve stimulation, Korean hand acupuncture, or Japanese scalp acupuncture; none60% showed at least 30% improvementYes (standard medical therapies)3iiiC
[73]Nonconsecutive case seriesRadiation proctitis in women treated for cervical cancer44; 44 acupuncture; none73% radiation proctitis cured: no blood or mucus for 15 daysNo3iiiC
[76]Nonconsecutive case seriesPostoperative lower extremity lymphedema in women treated for gynecologic tumors24; 24 acupuncture and moxibustion; noneEdema prevented or markedly reducedUnknown3iiiC
[78]Nonconsecutive case seriesSymptoms related to lymphedema (including pain, discomfort, anxiety and insomnia)35; 30 acupuncture and moxibustion; noneSymptoms improvedUnknown3iiiC
[74]Case reportDysphonia after radiation therapy1; 1 acupuncture; noneVoice recoveredUnknownNot applicable
[75]Case reportEsophageal obstruction in patients with esophageal cancer2; 2 acupuncture; noneObstruction relieved and normal bowel movements restoredYes (not specified)Not applicable
[77]Retrospective case seriesHiccups16; 16 acupuncture; noneSymptom reliefUnknown3iiiC

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.
f P < .001, versus baseline.


  1. Xia YQ, Zhang D, Yang CX, et al.: An approach to the effect on tumors of acupuncture in combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. J Tradit Chin Med 6 (1): 23-6, 1986.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. 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]

  3. Molassiotis A, Sylt P, Diggins H: The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: a randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med 15 (4): 228-37, 2007.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Zhang ZH: Effect of acupuncture on 44 cases of radiation rectitis following radiation therapy for carcinoma of the cervix uteri. J Tradit Chin Med 7 (2): 139-40, 1987.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  5. Yao W: Prof. Sheng Canruo's experience in acupuncture treatment of throat diseases with yan si xue. J Tradit Chin Med 20 (2): 122-5, 2000.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  6. Feng RZ: Relief of oesophageal carcinomatous obstruction by acupuncture. J Tradit Chin Med 4 (1): 3-4, 1984.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  7. Kanakura Y, Niwa K, Kometani K, et al.: Effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for lymphedema following intrapelvic lymph node dissection: a preliminary report. Am J Chin Med 30 (1): 37-43, 2002.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  8. Ge AX, Ryan ME, Giaccone G, et al.: Acupuncture treatment for persistent hiccups in patients with cancer. J Altern Complement Med 16 (7): 811-6, 2010.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  9. de Valois BA, Young TE, Melsome E: Assessing the feasibility of using acupuncture and moxibustion to improve quality of life for cancer survivors with upper body lymphoedema. Eur J Oncol Nurs 16 (3): 301-9, 2012.  [PUBMED Abstract]