Background: Treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), which affects approximately 30% to 40% of patients treated with neuropathy-causing agents, is mainly symptomatic. Currently available interventions are of little benefit.
Study Design: This study was conducted as a retrospective analysis of the efficacy of acupuncture and reflexology in alleviating CIPN in breast cancer patients.
Methods: Medical records of 30 consecutive breast cancer patients who received both chemotherapy and treatment for CIPN according to our Acupuncture and Reflexology Treatment for Neuropathy (ART-N) protocol between 2011 and 2012 were reviewed. Symptom severity was rated at baseline, during, and after treatment.
Results: The records of 30 breast cancer patients who had been concomitantly treated with chemotherapy and ART-N for CIPN were retrieved. Two records were incomplete, leaving a total of 28 patients who were enrolled into the study. Twenty patients (71%) had sensory neuropathy, 7 (25%) had motor neuropathy, and 1 (4%) had both sensory and motor neuropathy. Only 2 (10%) of the 20 patients with grades 1 to 2 neuropathy still reported symptoms at 12 months since starting the ART-N protocol. All 8 patients who presented with grades 3 to 4 neuropathy were symptom-free at the 12-month evaluation. Overall, 26 patients (93%) had complete resolution of CIPN symptoms.
Conclusion: The results of this study demonstrated that a joint protocol of acupuncture and reflexology has a potential to improve symptoms of CIPN in breast cancer patients. The protocol should be validated on a larger cohort with a control group. It also warrants testing as a preventive intervention.
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