“Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York City and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
, examined if acupuncture could help manage symptom burden of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) in patients with multiple myeloma.
HCT used in combination with high-dose chemotherapy can offer patients a chance for durable remission. However, patients who undergo this can experience fatigue, disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, nausea, drowsiness and physical weakness…
“Combining non-drug therapy with drug therapy for better symptom management is the future direction of cancer supportive care,” he said [Gary E. Deng, M.D., Ph.D., medical director, Integrative Medicine Service at MSK].
In the trial, patients underwent high-dose melphalan – a prescription chemotherapy drug used as a conditioning treatment prior to HCT – followed by autologous HCT, which is when the cells used in the transplant are the patient’s own.
Among the 60 patients participating, some received true acupuncture, while others received sham acupuncture, a research technique that removes the non-specific effects of acupuncture. This happened once a day for five days, starting the day after chemotherapy.Patients and clinical evaluators did not know which patients were assigned to either group.”
“Results: Among 60 participants, symptoms that are significantly reduced by true acupuncture more than sham acupuncture at 15 days include the following: nausea, lack of appetite, and drowsiness (p = 0.042, 0.025, and 0.010, respectively). Patients receiving sham acupuncture were more likely to increase use of pain medication post-transplantation (odds ratio 5.31, p = 0.017). “
Deng plans to take this research further. He hopes to get funding to support a larger study, which would allow him to examine acupuncture to alleviate symptom burden of HCT with a bigger patient population.
“This is the first study that suggests acupuncture being a non-drug therapy that reduces symptoms and use of pain medications in bone marrow transplant patients,” said Deng. “If confirmed in a larger study, we would have one more therapy that helps those patients through the course of transplantation.”
Deng, G., Giralt, S., Chung, D. J., Landau, H., Siman, J., Coleton, M., … & Cassileth, B. (2017). Acupuncture for reduction of symptom burden in multiple myeloma patients undergoing autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a randomized sham-controlled trial. Supportive Care in Cancer, 1-9.