Effects of Acupuncture on Menopause-Related Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Evidence regarding the effects of acupuncture on hot flashes in breast cancer survivors is conflicting. Little is known about the intermediate-term effects of acupuncture on hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms in breast cancer survivors.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the short-term and intermediate-term effects of acupuncture on menopause-related symptoms and particularly on hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.
Electronic databases including EMBASE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, CINAHL, Wanfang Data Chinese Database, and China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database from inception until June 15, 2014, were searched. Randomized controlled trials in which acupuncture was compared with sham controls or other interventions according to the reduction of hot flashes or menopause-related symptoms in breast cancer survivors were included.
We analyzed 7 studies involving 342 participants. Acupuncture significantly reduced the frequency of hot flashes and severity of menopause-related symptoms (g = -0.23 and -0.36, respectively) immediately after the completion of treatment. In comparison with sham acupuncture, effects of true acupuncture on the frequency and severity of hot flashes were not significantly different. At 1 to 3 months’ follow-up, the severity of menopause-related symptoms remained significantly reduced (g = -0.56).
Acupuncture yielded small-size effects on reducing hot-flash frequency and the severity of menopause-related symptoms.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:
Acupuncture may be used as a complementary therapy for breast cancer survivors experiencing hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms; however, whether acupuncture exerts specific treatment effects other than needling or placebo effects needs to be further evaluated.