November 28, 2012

Acupuncture for Cancer Fatigue

A recent trail from Manchester University has demonstrated that Acupuncture is an effective treatment for fatigue in breast cancer patients.  This fatigue affects hundreds of thousands of fomer cancer patients all over the United Kingdom and this health concern lead to this trail which has just been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) using 302 outpatients with breast cancer where 277 we assigned to an acupuncture group plus usual care (75 assigned to only usual care).  The acupuncture group recived a treatment 1 per week for 6 weeks and the results were measured using the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI) amongst other measurement scales.

Acupuncture was reported to improve all fatigue aspects which were measured using MFI as well as reducing anxiety and depression, and improving overall quality of life.

The researchers concluded that “acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing teh symptom of cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and improving patients’ quality of life”

Reported on Professor Alex Molassiotis, research lead, Cancer, Supportive & Palliative Care research team from the University of Manchester, who led the trial said: “Fatigue is a blight on the lives of thousands of former cancer patients and this trial proves acupuncture can help them. We were delighted to see so many patients getting substantial benefit from this treatment, particularly as they currently have limited options available. We now need to carry out further work to understand the costs and benefits of delivering acupuncture before it can be made available on the NHS.”


Patients in the Acupuncture Fatigue Trial came from:

  • The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;
  • Royal Oldham Hospital
  • North Manchester General Hospital
  • Royal Lancaster Infirmary
  • Furness General Hospital
  • The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust (London and Sutton, Surrey)
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • Breast Cancer Haven (London, Leeds and Hereford)
  • Beechwood Cancer Care, Manchester
  • Blythe House, Derbyshire

This research very much agrees with what I have seen in clinic and how acupuncture is very useful in palliative care and not only in the area of cancer.