Ancient Practice Brings New Energy to Cancer Patients

Cancer-related fatigue improved with acupuncture

(RxWiki News) Fatigue can be part of the new normal for breast cancer survivors. An ancient practice may help to bring these ladies new energy.

Acupuncture is effective in resolving cancer-related fatigue in women who’ve been treated for breast cancer. For thousands of years, acupuncture has been used to harmonize life energy – or what practitioners call “chi.”

"Try acupuncture for fatigue."

Researchers in the UK conducted the study involving 302 breast cancer patients. The objective was to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving fatigue related to their cancer. Researchers also measured changes in quality of life.

The Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (scale, 0-20) was used to score changes in fatigue. Researchers used other scales to assess function, emotional well-being and overall quality of life.

The ladies were randomly assigned to receive either usual care that included a booklet on how to overcome fatigue or the usual care plus acupuncture once a week for six weeks. The study members were then surveyed at the end of those six weeks.

The women who received acupuncture reported improvements in all areas:

  • Physical fatigue dropped 2.36 points and mental fatigue by 1.94 using a scale of 0-20.
  • Anxiety was lowered by 1.83 points and depression by 2.13
  • Quality of life improved – physical well-being went up 3.3 points and functional well-being was up 3.57 points.
  • Emotional well-being improved by 1.93 and social function well-being was up 1.05 points.

An accompanying editorial points out that the study didn’t measure how long these benefits lasted. Including healthy controls, the editorial writers suggest, would be helpful in future studies.

The authors of this study conclude, “Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptom of cancer-related fatigue and improving patients' quality of life.”

This study was published December 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Review Date: 
December 27, 2012