Background: Acupuncture has been demonstrated as an effective way to control nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy but has not been tested in conjunction with optimal use of antiemetic medication.
Objective: The goal of this study was to explore the feasibility and safety of electroacupuncture (EA) for women with breast cancer, who were receiving chemotherapy.
Design: The study was a randomized controlled pilot trial.
Setting: This trial was conducted at a medical oncology clinic at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Patients: Thirty-two women with breast cancer were recruited from a medical oncology clinic between March 2008 and July 2009.
Intervention: The intervention tested was true EA versus sham EA.
Main Outcome Measures: The study tested the effect of EA on women with breast cancer who were receiving chemotherapy, with respect to nausea, vomiting, and blood cell counts.
Results: All but 2 participants completed EA treatment; these two dropouts were 1 from the true EA group and 1 from the sham EA group. No adverse effects of EA were reported. There was no significant difference in nausea and vomiting between the groups. However, there were significant differences in adjusted white blood-cell and neutrophil counts at week 6 in the true EA group, compared to the sham EA group.
Conclusions: The findings of this trial suggest that EA during chemotherapy is a promising option for controlling side-effects of chemotherapy. An adequately powered, randomized, controlled trial to confirm the effect of EA is, therefore, warranted.