Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) occurs in 68.1% of patients within the first month of undergoing chemotherapy; however, standardized treatment for CIPN has not been established yet. The efficacy of acupuncture, a widely used treatment for CIPN in South Korea, has not been studied sufficiently. This study aimed to review the studies that evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture or electroacupuncture (EA) in treating CIPN.
A literature search was performed on relevant international databases — MEDLINE, Embase, the Allied and Complementary Medicine Databases, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure — as well as Korean databases — the National Digital Science Library, Oriental Medicine Advanced Searching Integrated System, DBpia, and Korean Studies Information Service System. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that aimed to treat CIPN symptoms with acupuncture or EA and set not only a control group with a conventional pharmacological treatment or injection, but also a placebo control or sham- acupuncture group, were included. Meta-analysis was conducted to elucidate the efficacy of acupuncture/EA on the basis of symptom score.
Of the 13 studies included in the literature review, 12 RCTs compared acupuncture and pharmacological treatments. There were 3 EA RCTs, but only 1 RCT compared EA and sham-EA. A total of 832 participants were included in these studies. Five RCTs showed that acupuncture was more effective than pharmacological treatment in terms of efficacy rate. Regarding the risk of bias summary, the quality of included studies was poor. Only 1 study compared the efficacy of EA and sham EA; therefore, the specific efficacy of acupuncture could not be elucidated.
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