Cancer and cancer treatments zap a patient’s energy and seriously impact quality of life. Now, a study recently conducted in the United Kingdom and profiled in the Journal for Clinical Oncology says acupuncture may be able to help with the serious fatigue that comes with cancer.
According to a Reuters article, the research – conducted by Alexander Molassiotis and his colleagues from the University of Manchester and other area educational institutions – studied 302 women who were characterized as having moderate to severe cancer-related fatigue. During the study period, 227 of the patients were treated with six weekly acupuncture sessions. Another 75 received no treatments.
All of the women in the study had been treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer during the five years prior to the study. Most had complained about feeling chronically tired for at least a year or more before the study commenced, the article notes.
At the start of the study, all the women were presented with a booklet on cancer-related fatigue. After six weeks, the women were asked to evaluate their fatigue level on a scale of 0 to 20. Among the group that received the acupuncture treatments, the measure of general fatigue dropped almost four points as compared to the number given at the start of the study. In those who did not receive the acupuncture treatment, there was less than a one point decline in fatigue level.
"Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptom of chemo-related fatigue and improving patients' quality of life," wrote Molassiotis and his co-authors.
The study also measured anxiety and depression levels. Those dropped about two points for the acupuncture recipients. Those women also reported that their physical and emotional well-being got a boost as well.
An editorial published in the Journal for Clinical Oncology as a complement to the study noted that some one-third of all cancer patients report fatigue that may last for years after their treatment ceases. This is true for patients with a variety of cancers, including mesothelioma, which is usually treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Both are known to exacerbate fatigue. Doctors normally encourage moderate exercise to help relieve excessive tiredness.