Auricular Acupressure May Reduce Fatigue During Lung-Cancer Chemo

By Reuters Staff

January 08, 2020

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Auricular acupressure (AA) may help reduce cancer-related fatigue (CRF) in lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, a randomized controlled trial shows.

AA with the traditional Chinese medicine Semen Vaccariae (SV, also known as ear seeds) was more effective for reducing CRF than was AA using magnetic beads, Dr. Li Tian of The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University in Souzhou, China, and colleagues found.

CRF affects about 80% of people undergoing chemotherapy and is especially severe for lung cancer patients, the researchers note in BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care. AA can help patients with chronic pain and with nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, they add, but has not been tested for treating CRF.

To investigate, Dr. Tian and colleagues randomly assigned 100 lung cancer patients undergoing chemo to receive nine weeks of AA with SV (34 patients); AA with magnetic beads (32 patients); or routine care (34 patients). Patients in both AA groups were trained to self-administer the treatment.

Both AA groups showed significantly greater improvements in physical and affective fatigue than did the usual-care group at nine weeks. AA with SV was more effective than AA with magnetic beads for reducing physical fatigue.

For instance, on intention-to-treat analysis, patients who received AA with SV improved 4.08 points more on the Cancer Fatigue Scale, which ranges from 0 to 60, than patients receiving usual care (P<0.01).

AA with SV was associated with a "very slight" improvement in sleep quality, while both types of AA reduced anxiety, the researchers found.

Fifteen patients were lost to follow-up.

"Further studies with a longer follow-up, analysis of the cause of dropping out, and exploration of ways to improve the adherence of AA should be carried out," the authors conclude.

The study had no commercial funding, and the researchers declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Dr. Tian was not available for an interview by press time.

SOURCE: BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, online December 13, 2019.