Lyon, D. E., Schubert, C., & Taylor, A. G. (2010). Pilot study of cranial stimulation for symptom management in breast cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 37, 476–483.doi: 10.1188/10.ONF.476-483
To determine whether cranial electrical stimulation (CES) is feasible for symptom management in patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy and to examine the outcomes for reducing the symptoms of fatigue, depression, anxiety, pain, and sleep disturbances in these patients.
Symptom reports (on fatigue, depression, anxiety, pain, and sleep disturbances) were collected at baseline by a research associate and then weekly using an interactive voice response (IVR) phone system. Patients were trained on the use of the CES devices and were able to use them at a setting of 100 µA for up to sixty minutes per day. They began using the devices on the first day of their chemotherapy infusions. Patients receiving chemotherapy every two weeks used the CES device for a total of six weeks; those receiving chemotherapy every three weeks used them for a total of eight weeks. A follow-up interview was held after patients finished the protocol.
Patients were undergoing the active treatment phase of care.
This was a prospective, double-blind, three-group, randomized, longitudinal pilot feasibility study.
Positive correlations existed between all symptoms, except pain and anxiety. Pain and fatigue symptoms were highly correlated with C-reactive protein.
CES appears to be a safe intervention during chemotherapy. This study showed that CES was a feasible and safe intervention during chemotherapy. It also showed positive correlations between several symptom management variables, but larger studies are needed to determine whether CES is effective for symptom management.
The study examined several symptoms seen in patients with breast cancer. Larger studies are needed to examine whether CES has a true effect on pain symptoms in patients with breast cancer.