American oncologists confirm that acupuncture is better than drugs for pain relief in breast cancer patients

A recent study by American oncologists confirmed that acupuncture can significantly relieve pain caused by treatment in breast cancer patients. The study, which involved 226 female patients at 11 cancer centers in the United States, took "real" acupuncture and "sham" acupuncture, and is the largest study of acupuncture treatment for cancer pain to date.

Pain in breast cancer patients

One of the most commonly used treatments for breast cancer patients is aromatase inhibitors. These drugs reduce estrogen levels and reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence after 5 to 10 years of use, but they also have many side effects, especially It is arthritis-like pain, which causes up to half of patients to be unable to take their medication regularly, or even to stop taking it altogether.

Opioids, which provide pain relief for such patients, have annoying side effects and are highly addictive.

Because of this, many cancer centers in the United States offer other complementary treatments, such as acupuncture, for pain relief. Nearly 90% of cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommend patients to try acupuncture, and many centers use acupuncture to treat adverse reactions.

However, skeptics believe that the effects of acupuncture are not supported by scientific evidence, and recommending acupuncture for treatment is equivalent to telling patients that "magic also works". This led Dawn Hershman, an oncologist at Columbia University Medical Center, to investigate whether acupuncture could help relieve pain caused by aromatase inhibitors, and finally got a positive result, suggesting that acupuncture can help patients adhere to aromatization through pain relief. Enzyme inhibitor anticancer therapy, thereby improving survival.

Findings from largest study to date: Acupuncture works

Hershman and colleagues divided 226 breast cancer patients receiving hormone therapy into 3 groups: ① acupuncture group; ② sham acupuncture group—acupuncture at a non-acupuncture point; and ③ no acupuncture group. Patients record their pain.

After 6 weeks, on a pain scale of "0-10", severe pain in the acupuncture group was found to be 1 scale less severe than both the sham acupuncture group and the no-acupuncture group. This was a significant improvement, and greater than that of duloxetine, an antidepressant often used to relieve pain in cancer patients. Moreover, patients with clinically meaningful pain improvement, that is, those with a pain reduction of more than 2 scales, were more in the acupuncture group, accounting for 58%, almost twice as many as the other two groups (30%). Unlike the transient effects of duloxetine, the analgesic effects of acupuncture persist after the course of treatment.

Hershman, the oncologist who led the study, suggested that acupuncture is a reasonable alternative to medication, and that it is better to use acupuncture than to prescribe duloxetine or opioids.

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