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Acupuncture, acupressure may help cancer patients control pain

(HealthDay)—The use of acupuncture and/or acupressure is associated with reduced cancer pain and decreased use of analgesics, according to a review published online Dec. 19 in JAMA Oncology.

Yihan He, Ph.D., from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine in China, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that compared acupuncture and acupressure with a sham control, analgesic therapy, or usual care for managing cancer pain.

The researchers identified 17 RCTs (1,111 patients) and used data from 14 RCTs (920 patients) in the meta-analysis. Seven high-quality sham-controlled RCTs (35 percent) showed that real, compared with sham, acupuncture was associated with reduced pain intensity. Among six RCTs, there was a positive association noted between the combination of acupuncture and acupressure with analgesic therapy for reducing pain intensity. Two RCTs showed that the combination reduced opioid dose. Due to significant heterogeneity among the studies, the evidence was graded as moderate.

"This finding suggests that more rigorous trials are needed to identify the association of acupuncture and acupressure with specific types of cancer pain and to integrate such evidence into clinical care to reduce opioid use," the authors write.

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