Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults

Evidence Summaries

Level of Evidence = D
Acupuncture might possibly be effective in controlling cancer-related pain in adults, but the evidence is insufficient for conclusions.

The quality of evidence is downgraded by potential reporting bias (only few small trials reported, by imprecise results (limited study size for each comparison) and by study quality (lack of blinding).

A Cochrane review 1 included five RCTs with a total of 285 patients to evaluate efficacy of acupuncture for relief of cancer-related pain in adults.

Two studies reported benefits of acupuncture in managing pancreatic cancer pain; no difference between real and sham electroacupuncture for pain associated with ovarian cancer; benefits of acupuncture over conventional medication for late stage unspecified cancer; benefits for auricular (ear) acupuncture over placebo for chronic neuropathic pain related to cancer; and no differences between conventional analgesia and acupuncture within the first 10 days of treatment for stomach carcinoma.


1. Paley CA, Johnson MI, Tashani OA et al. Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;(10):CD007753.  [PMID:26468973]

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