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OM, Oncology, Pain


Up to 70% of patients with cancer-related pain do not receive adequate pain relief and this reduces their quality of life. Acupuncture may have a role to play in relieving cancer-related pain. This review evaluated evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in reducing pain associated with cancer or its treatment, or both. We found three studies (looking at a total of 204 participants) which met our inclusion criteria, but all had small sample sizes, leaving them prone to bias, and only one study was judged to be of high methodological quality. The high quality study found that auricular (ear) acupuncture reduced cancer-related pain when compared with auricular acupuncture at non acupuncture points, but the control group was not adequately blinded and this was likely to affect the outcomes. Of the low quality studies, one found that acupuncture was as effective as medication, and one study found that acupuncture was more effective than medication, but both studies were poorly designed and the study reports lacked detail. We concluded that there was insufficient evidence to judge whether acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer-related pain in adults. —Cochrane July 2012



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