Acupuncture Reduces Joint Pain In Breast Cancer Patients On Aromatase Inhibitors

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One of the major drawback of aromatase inhibitors, a class of drugs, commonly used in the management of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer is the debilitating joint pain. Nearly 50% of patients on these medications complain of some joint pain or stiffness, and about half of those patients stop taking the medication due to severe pain, according to Dawn Hershman, M.D., of Columbia University Medical Center.

A large clinical trial, which involved a total of 226 patients from 11 cancer centers, has found that acupuncture can significantly reduce the troublesome joint pain caused by the aromatase inhibitors.

As part of the study, the cancer patients were assigned to one of three arms, i.e., true acupuncture, sham acupuncture (a method of superficially inserting needles in different, non-therapeutic locations on the body), and no treatment at all. The patients were treated twice weekly for six weeks, after which they received weekly maintenance treatment for another six weeks.

At the end of the treatment period, the patients who received true acupuncture experienced less pain compared with the sham and treatment-free arms, according to the researchers.

Commenting on the study results, Dr. Hershman, the lead researcher of the study, said, "The new findings should make health care providers more likely to suggest acupuncture to their patients".

Source: Acupuncture May Reduce Treatment-Related Joint Pain for Breast Cancer Patients was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.

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