Cancer Pain**

Weak positive evidence; low to very low quality evidence (Paley 2015 – Cochrane SR of 5 RCTs) (1)

Acupuncture relieved malignancy-related and surgery-induced pain but not pain induced by chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy; Reviewers recommend acupuncture be included in multimodal treatment regimens (Chiu 2016 – SR of 29 RCTs)(2)

Acupuncture and moxibustion appear to be efficacious adjunctive therapy; Insufficient evidence; low quality evidence (He 2013 – SR of 7 RCTs)(3)

Cancer related Fatigue**

Acupuncture and acupressure tend to be effective, acupuncture more than acupressure; low quality evidence (Ling 2013 – SR)(4)

Conflicting evidence: four studies showed acupuncture or acupuncture plus usual care superior to sham, usual care, enhanced usual care or no treatment; three studies showed no difference between acupuncture and sham; very low quality evidence (Posadzki 2013 – SR of 7 RCTs)(5)

Acupuncture may reduce fatigue after cancer treatment; low quality evidence (Finnegan-John 2013 – SR of CAM 20 studies; 3 acupuncture/acupressure RCTs)(6)

Acupuncture plus education superior to usual care; low quality evidence (Zeng 2014 (SR of 7 RCTs)(7)

Cancer related insomnia*

Acupuncture may be superior to sham acupuncture, drugs or hormones therapy. Number of studies and effect size are small for clinical significance; low quality evidence (Choi 2016 – SR of 6 RCTs)(8)

Cancer related Psychological Symptoms*

All included studies suggest benefits in depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and for improving QoL; strong evidence for safety; no assessment of quality of evidence (Haddad 2014 – SR of 12 studies; 8 RCTs)(9)


1. Paley CA, Johnson MI, Tashani OA, Bagnall AM. Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015(10):Cd007753.

2. Chiu HY, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS. Systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2016 Feb 7.

3. He XR, Wang Q, Li PP. Acupuncture and moxibustion for cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review and meta analysis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(5):3067-74.

4. Ling WM, Lui LY, So WK, Chan K. Effects of acupuncture and acupressure on cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2014 Nov 1;41(6):581-92.

5. Posadzki P, Moon TW, Choi TY, Park TY, Lee MS, Ernst E. Acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Support Care Cancer. 2013 Jul;21(7):2067-73.

6. Finnegan-John J, Molassiotis A, Richardson A, Ream E. A systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine interventions for the management of cancer-related fatigue. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013 Jul;12(4):276-


7. Zeng Y, Luo T, Finnegan-John J, Cheng AS. Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials of Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Fatigue. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 May;13(3):193-200.

8. Choi TY, Kim JI, Lim HJ, Lee MS. Acupuncture for Managing Cancer-Related Insomnia: A Systematic Review of  Randomized Clinical Trials. Integr Cancer Ther. 2016 Aug 16.

9. Haddad NE, Palesh O. Acupuncture in the treatment of cancer-related psychological symptoms. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 Sep;13(9):371-85.