Acupuncture for breast cancer-related lymphedema: A randomized controlled trial Journal Article


Authors: Bao, T.; Zhi, W. I.; Vertosick, E. A.; Li, Q. S.; DeRito, J.; Vickers, A.; Cassileth, B. R.; Mao, J. J.; Van Zee, K. J.
Article Title: Acupuncture for breast cancer-related lymphedema: A randomized controlled trial
Abstract: Purpose: Approximately 20% of breast cancer survivors develop breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL), and current therapies are limited. We compared acupuncture (AC) to usual care wait-list control (WL) for treatment of persistent BCRL. Methods: Women with moderate BCRL lasting greater than six months were randomized to AC or WL. AC included twice weekly manual acupuncture over six weeks. We evaluated the difference in circumference and bioimpedance between affected and unaffected arms. Responders were defined as having a decrease in arm circumference difference greater than 30% from baseline. We used analysis of covariance for circumference and bioimpedance measurements and Fisher’s exact to determine the proportion of responders. Results: Among 82 patients, 73 (89%) were evaluable for the primary endpoint (36 in AC, 37 in WL). 79 (96%) patients received lymphedema treatment before enrolling in our study; 67 (82%) underwent ongoing treatment during the trial. We found no significant difference between groups for arm circumference difference (0.38 cm greater reduction in AC vs. WL, 95% CI − 0.12 to 0.89, p = 0.14) or bioimpedance difference (1.06 greater reduction in AC vs. WL, 95% CI − 5.72 to 7.85, p = 0.8). There was also no difference in the proportion of responders: 17% AC versus 11% WL (6% difference, 95% CI – 10 to 22%, p = 0.5). No severe adverse events were reported. Conclusions: Our acupuncture protocol appeared to be safe and well tolerated. However, it did not significantly reduce BCRL in pretreated patients receiving concurrent lymphedema treatment. This regimen does not improve upon conventional lymphedema treatment for breast cancer survivors with persistent BCRL. © 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Keywords: breast cancer; lymphedema; acupuncture; bcrl; breast cancer-related lymphedema
Journal Title: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Volume: 170
Issue: 1
ISSN: 0167-6806
Publisher: Springer  
Date Published: 2018-07-01
Start Page: 77
End Page: 87
Language: English
DOI: 10.1007/s10549-018-4743-9
PROVIDER: scopus
PUBMED: 29520533
DOI/URL:
Notes: Article -- Export Date: 2 July 2018 -- Source: Scopus
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MSK Authors
  1. Kimberly J Van Zee
    241 Van Zee
  2. Barrie R Cassileth
    189 Cassileth
  3. Andrew J Vickers
    556 Vickers
  4. Ting   Bao
    19 Bao
  5. Jun J Mao
    61 Mao
  6. Qing Susan Li
    15 Li
  7. Janice L DeRito
    2 DeRito
  8. Wanqing Iris Zhi
    3 Zhi