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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Acupuncture Relieves Fatigue in Lung Cancer Patients

Cancer Fatigue

Fatigue is more than just feeling tired.  It is a feeling of weakness and lethargy day in and day out.  Fatigue is usually not relieved by sleep or rest.  Cancer Fatigue is worse.  It can be caused by both cancer itself and the treatments prescribe for it.

The study I am presenting for your perusal today deals with studying if acupuncture can help relieve cancer related fatigue in lung cancer patients.

Acupuncture for Cancer Fatigue

In this study, the researchers did the following:

We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial to evaluate the clinical effect of acupuncture on CRF in lung cancer patients. Twenty-eight patients presenting with CRF were randomly assigned to active acupuncture or placebo acupuncture groups to receive acupoint stimulation (LI-4, Ren-6, St-36, KI-3, and Sp-6) twice per week for 4 weeks, followed by 2 weeks of follow-up. The primary outcome was the change in intensity of CFR based on the Chinese version of the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI-C). As the secondary endpoint, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung Cancer Subscale (FACT-LCS) was adopted to assess the influence of acupuncture on patients’ quality of life (QOL). Adverse events and safety of treatments were monitored throughout the trial.

What this means is that the doctors took 28 patients and they were randomly assigned to a group with real acupuncture and group with fake acupuncture.  They received the treatments twice a week for a month.

The basis for evaluating whether the treatment worked or not is a scale called the Brief Fatigue Inventory.  It’s not just a “hey, I feel better” kind of thing.

So what happened?

Our pilot study demonstrated feasibility among patients with appropriate inclusion criteria and good compliance with acupuncture treatment. A significant reduction in the BFI-C score was observed at 2 weeks in the 14 participants who received active acupuncture compared with those receiving the placebo (P < 0.01). At week 6, symptoms further improved according to the BFI-C (P < 0.001) and the FACT-LCS (P = 0.002). There were no significant differences in the incidence of adverse events in either group (P > 0.05).

Note that the success of the study also depends on good compliance with treatment.  This is true not just for acupuncture but for all therapeutic intverventions.

In conclusion, I think we can say that acupuncture can be a great help in improving the quality of life of lung cancer patients.  We need to do more studies about this.


Cheng CS, et al. Acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue in lung cancer patients: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial. Support Care Cancer. 2017 Jul 13. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3812-7. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28707168.

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