Acupuncture May Soothe Painful Side Effects Associated with Hormone Treatment for Women with Early Breast Cancer

Women receiving aromatase inhibitors (AI) as an early breast cancer treatment may benefit from acupuncture to relieve painful joint aches, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

AI are used as a treatment for early-stage, horomone-receptor-positive breast cancer due to its estrogen blocking qualities, but can also cause joint aches and stiffness leading recipients to sometimes discontinue the effective therapy.

In an effort to improve the quality of life of patients undergoing the treatment, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center performed a randomized, controlled, blinded study on a non-drug option to manage the demonstrated joint pain issues.

All participating subjects were postmenopuasal women with breast cancer who had self-reported musculoskeletal pain related to AIs.

One group of subjects received true acupuncture (TA) treatment while another received sham acupuncture (SA) treatment twice weekly for six weeks. Subjects in the TA group received full body acupuncture and joint-specific point prescriptions, while those in the SA group received superficial needle insertion at nonacupoint locations.

Researchers found that pain scores were lower for those receiving TA compared with the SA group. Pain severity was also lower for the TA group and the treatment was well tolerated, leading researchers to conclude that acupuncture was proven as an effective remedy for relieving pain related to AI-therapy.

Women receiving aromatase inhibitors (AI) as an early breast cancer treatment may benefit from acupuncture to relieve painful joint aches, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.