We regularly see and treat patients at the Crowborough and Bexhill clinics who are suffering the side effects of cancer treatment. One of the main effects suffered is cancer related fatigue. A large-scale clinical trial has shown for the first time that acupuncture is effective in treating fatigue in former breast cancer patients. Fatigue affects hundreds of thousands of former cancer patients in the UK following their treatment, making it a concern. The results of a large scale UK trial are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 20 December 2012. It concluded that Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptom of Cancer Related Fatigue and improving patients' quality of life.
Of the 302 patients in the trial, 227 were given weekly acupuncture sessions, with follow-up checks for another 18 weeks; 75 were given normal care. Patients given acupuncture had suffered from fatigue for an average of 15 months. They were then assessed for physical and mental fatigue, activity, motivation, anxiety, depression and quality of life. Under all of these assessments, acupuncture was shown to have significant benefits. While the researchers acknowledge a placebo effect was possible, they believe the results are too significant to be viewed as a result of any potential placebo effect alone.
Acupuncture is a complementary or traditional medicine which has been used in China for hundreds of years. Its use in mainstream healthcare in the UK is still in its infancy, with it currently being used on the NHS to treat lower back pain, headache, migraine. The authors of this trial call for more clinical trials to be set up looking at the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture, particularly weighed against reduced costs to society and the NHS of those suffering significant and protracted fatigue after cancer treatment. The benefits should also be investigated for other cancer types, the authors argue. This information is from http://www.breakthrough.org.uk