Acupuncture and Massage for Cancer Pain

Acupuncture in US cancer care

Acupuncture and massage for cancer pain have been studied in a large American multi-centre pragmatic trial. Both were found to be associated with pain reduction, and improved fatigue, insomnia and quality of life.

Nearly 300 patients, mean age 59, with advanced cancer, moderate to severe pain and life expectancy of six months or more, were selected. Patients were randomised to receive either acupuncture or massage, which was given weekly for ten weeks, then monthly up to the 26 week point.

Over the 26 weeks of treatment, acupuncture was found to reduce the worst pain scores by a mean of 2.5 whilst massage reduced the same scores by a mean 3.0. The difference between the two groups was not significant. Both treatments also improved fatigue, insomnia and quality of life.

(Acupuncture vs Massage for Pain in Patients Living With Advanced Cancer: The IMPACT Randomised Clinical Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, 14 November 2023.)