A ten-week course of acupuncture can lead to measurable improvement in symptoms of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), according to a British research team. In a pragmatic trial, 108 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who were experiencing CIPN were randomised to either acupuncture plus usual care (medication with gabapentin/pregabalin and/or amitriptyline) or usual care alone, for ten weeks. Participants in the acupuncture group received a weekly, 40-minute, standardised acupuncture session. If a participant was experiencing both lower and upper limb CIPN, a maximum of 26 core points would be needled. Eight bilateral core points – Taichong LIV-3, Yanglingquan SP-6, Zusanli ST-36, Bafeng M-LE-8 and Kunlun BL-60 – were selected for lower limb CIPN. Five bilateral core points – Baxie M-UE-22 and Hegu L.I.-4 – were used for upper limb CIPN. In cases of lymphoedema, with one or more limbs affected, the number of core points used was as low as 16. Additional points including Baihui DU-20, Yintang M-HN-3, Taixi KID-3, Zhaohai KID-6 and Fuliu KID-7 were used as appropriate to address associated symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, hormonal and genito-urinary dysfunction. At week 10, 68% of cases were classified as successes in the acupuncture group compared with 33% in the control group, a significant difference. Beneficial effects were seen in the secondary outcome data in favour of acupuncture, including clinicians’ grading of neuropathy, cancer-related quality of life, subjective CIPN scores and patient-reported pain scores.

A randomised, pragmatic clinical trial of ACUpuncture plus standard care versus standard care alone FOr Chemotherapy Induced peripheral Neuropathy (ACUFOCIN)Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2022 Oct;60:102171.