Acupuncture can help reduce unpleasant side effects associated with endocrine therapy for breast cancer. Nevertheless, comprehensive evaluation of current evidence from randomized controlled trials(RCTs) is lacking.
Objective. To estimate the efficacy of acupuncture for the reduction of hormone therapy-related side effects in breast cancer patients.
Evidence review. RCTs of acupuncture in breast cancer patients that examined reductions in hormone therapy–related side effects were retrieved from PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, Ovid MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library databases through April 2016. The quality of the included studies was evaluated according to the 5.2 Cochrane Handbook standards, and CONSORT and STRICTA (Revised Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture) statements.
Intervention. Interventions included conventional acupuncture treatment compared with no treatment, placebo, or conventional pharmaceutical medication. Major outcome measures were the alleviation of frequency and symptoms and the presence of hormone therapy–related side effects.
Findings/Results. A total of 17 RCTs, including a total of 810 breast cancer patients were examined. The methodological quality of the trials was relatively rigorous in terms of randomization, blinding, and sources of bias. Compared with control therapies, the pooled results suggested that acupuncture had moderate effects in improving stiffness. No significant differences were observed in hot flashes, fatigue, pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, Kupperman index, general well-being, physical well-being, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukin (IL).
Conclusions. Acupuncture therapy appears to be potentially useful in relieving functional stiffness. However, further large-sample trials with evidence-based design are still needed to confirm these findings.
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