05. July 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, Qigong

A preliminary study from Taiwan suggests that both static and moving forms of qigong practice are beneficial for breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. A quasi-experimental design was applied to the study of 95 females who were receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. Participants were assigned to three groups; the control group undertook a post-surgical exercise programme; the non-sporting qigong (NSQG) group performed a meditative breathing exercise while either sitting or standing; and the sporting qigong (SQG) group performed tai chi-like moving qigong exercises. Patients performed their exercises for at least 30 minutes, three times per week for 12 weeks. At one and three months after beginning the program, patients in the SQG group showed lower frailty scores than those in the control group. At three months from baseline, patients in the NSQG group also reported lower frailty scores and higher mental QOL than those in the control group.
Effects of non-sporting and sporting qigong on frailty and quality of life among breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2015 Nov 21. pii: S1462-3889(15)30043-0..

Having weekly acupuncture treatment following chemoradiotherapy (CRT) head and neck cancer (HNC) may reduce patients’ symptom severity and decrease the amount of time they need to undergo tubal feeding. In a retrospective case series, ten American patients with HNC were treated with weekly manual and electroacupuncture for radiation-induced dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and xerostomia (dry mouth). Nine out of ten patients reported subjective improvement in swallowing, xerostomia, pain and fatigue levels. Six out of seven patients had their feeding tubes removed after acupuncture, at a median duration of 114 days post CRT, which represents a relatively short time under such circumstances. (Acupuncture for dysphagia after chemoradiation therapy in head and neck cancer: a case series report. Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Sep;9(3):284-90).

Meanwhile, a Norwegian study has examined the quality of life of breast cancer patients on anti-oestrogen medication, two years after receiving acupuncture treatment for hot flushes. Forty-one women from an acupuncture treatment group and 41 women from a sham acupuncture control group had received a course of 15 acupuncture treatments over a period of 10 weeks two years previously. Qualitative data showed that women previously treated with sham acupuncture complained that hot flushes were still a problem, whilst those previously treated with traditional Chinese acupuncture found them less problematic and generally had a more positive outlook on life. (Quality of life of breast cancer patients medicated with anti-estrogens, 2 years after acupuncture treatment: a qualitative study. Int J Womens Health. 2010 Sep 28;2:319-25).

An American pilot study suggests that acupuncture may have a protective effect on white blood cell (WBC) populations in women undergoing chemotherapy for gynaecological malignancies. Twenty-one ovarian cancer patients received either active or sham acupuncture while undergoing myelosuppressive chemotherapy. A standardised acupuncture protocol involving manual and electrical stimulation was applied two to three times per week for a total of 10 sessions, starting one week before the second cycle of chemotherapy. The median leukocyte value in the acupuncture group was significantly higher on the first day of the third cycle of chemotherapy than in the control (8600 cell / mL versus 4400 cell / mL), and the incidence of grade two to four leukopenia was less in the acupuncture group than in the sham group (30% versus 90%). The authors conclude that acupuncture treatment resulted in clinically relevant trends of higher WBC values during chemotherapy, which suggests a potential myeloprotective effect of acupuncture. (Acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in patients with gynecologic malignancies: a pilot randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jul;15(7):745-53).

A randomised controlled pilot study has assessed the effects of ‘acupuncture and acupressure in managing cancer-related fatigue. Forty-seven patients with cancer who experienced moderate to severe fatigue were randomised either to an acupuncture group, an acupressure group, or a sham acupressure group. The acupuncture group received six 20 minute sessions over two weeks, while the patients in the two acupressure groups were taught to press the points themselves and did so daily thereafter for two weeks. At the end of the intervention, there was a 36% improvement in fatigue levels in the acupuncture group, while the acupressure group improved by 19% and the sham acupressure by 0.6%. (The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: a randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Dec;15(4):228-37).

A small qualitative study carried out in the UK has found that a standardised auricular acupuncture protocol delivered in small group clinics is beneficial for women suffering from hot flushes caused by hormone treatment for breast cancer. The 16 women interviewed found the acupuncture to be helpful and relaxing. Many reported reductions in hot flush frequency, as well as improvements in overall emotional and physical wellbeing. The group treatment setting was regarded as supportive and encouraging. (Ear acupuncture for hot flushes – The perceptions of women with breast cancer. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007 Nov;13(4):250-7).