Anthracyclines are among the most useful chemotherapeutic agents available today, but their toxicity is dose-limiting. The largest side-effect of these agents is cardiotoxicity and myelosuppression.
A group of researchers from the Department of Gynecology, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, published their findings on the effects of acupuncture on myelosuppression and quality of life in women with breast cancer. Published in Supportive Care in Cancer, the study used a randomized, controlled design to determine whether acupuncture had any meaningful impact.
The methodology report detailed that “A quality of life questionnaire (FACT-G) and peripheral blood levels of the participants were evaluated before and at the end of treatment. The [acupuncture group] was submitted to an acupuncture intervention, starting before the first chemotherapy infusion, and continuing throughout the treatment.”
To determine the level of myelosuppression, the researchers looked at the participants’ need for secondary prophylaxis with granulocyte-stimulating factor (G-CSF). In the control group (n = 16), 72.7% required secondary prophylaxis with G-CSF, whereas, in the acupuncture group, only 12% percent needed G-CSF.
Regarding the women’s self-reported quality of life, the authors stated, “the groups did not initially differ from each other,” but added that, “At the end of the treatment, there was a significant difference in the [acupuncture group] for the physical (GP) (p-value=0.011), social/family (GS) (p-value=0.018), and functional (GF) (p-value=0.010) domains.”
These results led the authors to conclude that acupuncture was effective as a secondary prophylaxis for myelosuppression and improved quality of life for women undergoing chemotherapeutic treatment with anthracyclines for breast cancer.
Effect of acupuncture in myelosuppression and quality of life in women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy: a randomized clinical study.