Paley, C.A., Johnson, M.I., Tashani, O.A., & Bagnall, A.M. (2011). Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1, CD007753.doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007753.pub2
To evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for the relief of cancer-related pain in adults
The initial search retrieved 253 articles. Of these, only three RCTs were appropriate for inclusion. None provided extractable data for meta-analysis. Investigators evaluated study quality by using the Jadad scale. Two of the three studies had low-quality scores (2 points out of 5).
The three studies included a total of 204 patients. Across studies, sample size range was 48–90. Authors reported no other sample characteristics.
This study provided insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture for the relief of cancer-related pain.
Available evidence is inconclusive or of low quality.
Acupuncture is being more widely used to treat cancer-related pain, but evidence is insufficient to support the effectiveness of this treatment. More well-designed studies of acupuncture are needed, and study designers should ensure adequate sample sizes, homogeneity of cancer pain conditions under study, consistent dosing of acupuncture, valid controls, and reliable pain outcomes measurement. The authors point out that guidelines for the use of acupuncture are available. They suggest that practitioners use such guidelines and remain aware of the limitations of acupuncture.