Acupuncture eases breast cancer therapy

March 5, 2010 at 5:31 PM
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NEW YORK, March 5 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say acupuncture may relieve joint pain often accompanying breast cancer treatment.

Researchers at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and colleagues found post-menopausal women being treated with aromatase inhibitor therapy for hormone-receptor-positive early breast cancer reporting joint pain who received acupuncture had significant lessening of pain.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also found the women treated with acupuncture had overall physical well-being improve and the 20 percent also taking pain medications reported no longer needing them. No such improvements were reported by controls.

"Since aromatase inhibitors have become an increasingly popular treatment option for some breast cancer patients, we aimed to find a non-drug option to manage the joint issues they often create, thereby improving quality of life and reducing the likelihood that patients would discontinue this potentially life-saving treatment," study senior author Dr. Dawn Hershman said in a statement.

Hershman and colleagues randomly assigned 43 women given aromatase inhibitor and reporting joint pain to receive twice weekly treatments of either true acupuncture or sham acupuncture -- superficial needle insertion at points not-recognized as acupuncture points as a control.

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