Breast cancer patients experience fewer side effects from anticancer drug

December 23, 2013

A new analysis has found that both real and sham acupuncture treatments may help alleviate side effects of drugs commonly used to treat breast cancer. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings may help clinicians improve care for cancer patients. The results also raise the question of whether sham acupuncture is truly inert or may, like real acupuncture, have beneficial effects.

Breast cancer patients who take a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor (which inhibits the enzyme that produces estrogen in postmenopausal women) often experience side effects, including joint/muscle pain and stiffness, and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. To see if acupuncture could help alleviate patients' symptoms, Ting Bao MD, DAMBA, MS, of the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore, and her colleagues recruited 47 breast cancer survivors taking aromatase inhibitors and suffering from joint/muscle discomfort to participate in a clinical trial. About half of the patients received eight weekly acupuncture treatments, and the other half received a kind of fake (or "sham") acupuncture that involved non-penetrating retractable needles placed in sham acupoints (non-acupuncture points).

Both groups experienced lessening of their symptoms, especially hot flashes, but there was little difference in benefits between the real acupuncture and the sham acupuncture. "It could be that there is no difference, or it could be that in this small trial we just didn't have enough patients to detect a significant difference," said Dr. Bao. Notably, no patients experienced any significant side effects from either type of acupuncture treatment. "This is important because other treatments for symptoms often do have side effects, so showing that this treatment works without side effects could be a big improvement in the treatment of cancer survivors," explained Dr. Bao.

Although the researchers did not plan to look at racial differences, after the trial was completed they found that women who were African American experienced a greater reduction in the severity and frequency of hot flashes if they had real acupuncture rather than sham acupuncture when compared to non-African American women. "This kind of result is not definitive, but it does suggest that we should probably look further into the possibility that acupuncture may work better in some ethnicity groups than others," said Dr. Bao.
-end-


Wiley

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.