One of the main goals of SIO’s research committee is to disseminate recent research findings to members. This page is used as a resource, providing monthly updates of relevant literature. Each month, SIO Research Committee co-chairs select recent papers to be listed on the SIO website, based on search criteria that focus on original clinical research in human populations spanning a full range of complementary therapy modalities. We will include the abstracts and links to the journals cited for downloads. We hope you enjoy this new feature and we appreciate your comments and feedback.

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December 2019 Research Findings

Bao T, Deng G, DeMarzo LA, Zhi WI, DeRito JL, Blinder V, et al. A Technology-Assisted, Brief Mind-Body Intervention to Improve the Waiting Room Experience for Chemotherapy Patients: Randomized Quality Improvement Study. JMIR Cancer 2019 Nov 7;5(2):e13217 PMID 31697238

BACKGROUND: Patients waiting for chemotherapy can experience stress, anxiety, nausea, and pain. Acupressure and meditation have been shown to control such symptoms. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of an integrative medicine app to educate patients about these self-care tools in chemotherapy waiting rooms. METHODS: We screened and enrolled cancer patients in chemotherapy waiting rooms at two Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center locations. Patients were randomly assigned into an intervention arm in which subjects watched acupressure and meditation instructional videos or a control arm in which they watched a time- and attention-matched integrative oncology lecture video. Before and after watching the videos, we asked the patients to rate four key symptoms: stress, anxiety, nausea, and pain. We performed the analysis of covariance to detect differences between the two arms postintervention while controlling for baseline symptoms. RESULTS: A total of 223 patients were enrolled in the study: 113 patients were enrolled in the intervention arm and 110 patients were enrolled in the control arm. In both groups, patients showed significant reductions in stress and anxiety from baseline (all P<.05), with the treatment arm reporting greater stress and anxiety reduction than the control arm (1.64 vs 1.15 in stress reduction; P=.01 and 1.39 vs 0.78 in anxiety reduction; P=.002). The majority of patients reported that the videos helped them pass time and that they would watch the videos again. CONCLUSIONS: An integrative medicine self-care app in the waiting room improved patients' experiences and reduced anxiety and stress. Future research could focus on expanding this platform to other settings to improve patients' overall treatment experiences.


Blair CK, McDougall JA, Chiu VK, Wiggins CL, Rajput A, Harding EM, et al. Correlates of poor adherence to a healthy lifestyle among a diverse group of colorectal cancer survivors. Cancer Causes Control 2019 Dec;30(12):1327-1339 PMID 31655944

PURPOSE: Lifestyle factors may have a synergistic effect on health. We evaluated the correlates of poor adherence to a healthy lifestyle among a diverse sample of colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors to inform future lifestyle promotion programs. METHODS: Lifestyle questions from a cross-sectional survey were completed by 283 CRC survivors (41% Hispanic, 40% rural, 33% low income). Adherence to recommendations (yes/no) for physical activity, fruit and vegetable servings/day, avoiding tobacco, and healthy weight was summed to create an overall lifestyle quality score. Polytomous logistic regression was used to evaluate correlates of good (reference group), moderate, and poor overall lifestyle quality. Potential correlates included sociodemographic characteristics, cancer-related factors, and indicators of health and well-being. RESULTS: CRC survivors with poor adherence were 2- to 3.4-fold significantly more likely to report multiple comorbidities, poor physical functioning, fatigue, anxiety/depressive symptoms, and poor social participation. In multivariable analyses, poor physical functioning was the only significant correlate of poor adherence to lifestyle recommendations, compared to good adherence [OR (95% CI) 3.4 (1.8-6.4)]. The majority of survivors, 71% and 78%, indicated interest in receiving information on exercise and eating a healthy diet, respectively. CONCLUSION: Future lifestyle promotion programs for CRC survivors should carefully consider indicators of physical and psychosocial health and well-being, especially poor physical functioning, in the design, recruitment, and implementation of these health programs.


Brinkhaus B, Kirschbaum B, Stockigt B, Binting S, Roll S, Carstensen M, et al. Prophylactic acupuncture treatment during chemotherapy with breast cancer: a randomized pragmatic trial with a retrospective nested qualitative study. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2019 Dec;178(3):617-628 PMID 31520284

PURPOSE: This study investigated the effect of additional prophylactic acupuncture during chemotherapy on quality of life and side effects compared to standard treatment alone in breast cancer patients. METHODS: In a pragmatic trial, newly diagnosed breast cancer patients were randomized to additional acupuncture treatments over 6 months or standard care alone (control group). The primary outcome was the disease-specific quality of life (FACT-B). Twenty qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten patients from each group regarding their subjective experiences. RESULTS: A total of 150 women (mean age 51.0 (SD 10.0) years) were randomized. For the primary endpoint, FACT-B total score after 6 months, no statistically significant difference was found between groups (acupuncture: 103.5 (95%, CI 88.8 to 107.2); control (101.4 (- 97.5 to 105.4); difference 2.0 (- 3.4 to 7.5) p = 0.458)). Qualitative content analyses showed that patients in the acupuncture group described positive effects on psychological and physical well-being. For both patient groups, coping strategies were more important than reducing side effects. CONCLUSIONS: Breast cancer patients receiving prophylactic acupuncture during chemotherapy did not show better quality of life in the questionnaires in contrast to the reported positive effects in the qualitative interviews. Coping strategies for cancer appear to be important. TRIAL REGISTRATION:; NCT01727362. Prospectively registered 11 July 2012; . The manuscript adheres to CONSORT guidelines.


Ee C, Cave AE, Naidoo D, Boyages J. Prevalence of and attitudes towards complementary therapy use for weight after breast cancer in Australia: a national survey. BMC Complement Altern Med 2019 Nov 21;19(1):332-019-2747-6 PMID 31752830

BACKGROUND: Weight gain is common after breast cancer (BC) treatment and may increase the risk of disease recurrence. Complementary medicine (CM) use is high amongst BC patients. This paper describes the use of CM from a cross-sectional self-administered survey on prevalence and management of weight after BC. METHODS: Use of CM was assessed using a question modified from the I-CAM Questionnaire. Participants were asked to rate perceived effectiveness, advantages and disadvantages, and which CM they were willing to use for weight management if there was evidence for effectiveness. The survey was emailed to members of the Breast Cancer Network Australia Survey and Review Group, the largest consumer advocacy group in Australia for people with breast cancer. RESULTS: There were a total of 309 responses. Three quarters had used CM in the past 12 months. One third had tried CM for weight loss. Yoga, meditation and pilates were perceived to be effective for weight loss. Perceived advantages of CMs for weight loss were the ability to improve general wellbeing, relaxation, and being non-pharmacological while disadvantages were financial cost, finding a reliable practitioner, and lack of research for effectiveness. Three quarters would be willing to try CM for weight loss if there was evidence for effectiveness, with the most popular CMs being acupuncture, relaxation, yoga, supplements, and meditation. CONCLUSIONS: The high use of CM in this group is consistent with previous research. Our research suggests that BC survivors would use acupuncture, meditation, supplements and yoga for weight loss if supported by scientifically-credible evidence. Research into the effectiveness of these treatments on weight loss after BC is warranted.


Epstein JB, de Andrade E Silva SM, Epstein GL, Leal JHS, Barasch A, Smutzer G. Taste disorders following cancer treatment: report of a case series. Support Care Cancer 2019 Dec;27(12):4587-4595 PMID 30927113

PURPOSE: To present the findings of combined oral assessment and gustometry testing of a series of head and neck and hematologic malignancies in patients with self-reported taste change after cytotoxic therapies. METHODS: Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple myeloma (MM), and head and neck cancer (HNC) were evaluated for taste function. Chemical gustometry was conducted assessing chemosensory qualities that included sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami, and spicy. NCI Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) 4.0 and the Scale of Subjective Total Taste Acuity (STTA) were used to describe taste symptoms. Saliva flow rates were measured to determine the presence of hyposalivation. Patients were provided treatment trials for taste dysfunction, including zinc supplements, or medications that included clonazepam, megestrol acetate, and the cannabinoid dronabinol. RESULTS: According to STTA, hematology cases reported the incidence of grades 2 and 3 taste disturbances as 60% and 40%, respectively. For HNC patients, the incidence of grades 2 and 3 was 44% each. Gustometry tests confirmed dysgeusia in all patients evaluated. In the hematology group, 80% of patients exhibited a decrease in sweet taste perception, and no patients correctly identified umami taste. In the HNC group, most patients could not identify salt taste, 66% of patients reported "no sensation" with spicy taste, bitter taste was reduced in some, and increased or altered in others, while only one patient could identify umami taste. In the hematologic and HNC patient groups, 80% and 66% reported grade 2 dry mouth, respectively, according to CTCAE 4.0. After treatment for taste dysfunction, 71% of all patients in the present study reported improvements in taste function. CONCLUSIONS: Persisting dysgeusia in cancer survivors may be assessed by patient report and taste testing. The taste most affected in our patients was umami. Treatment trials with current interventions for dysgeusia appeared effective and should be considered in cancer survivors. Understanding taste and flavor function during and following cancer treatment is important in developing rational prospective preventive and interventional strategies.
Liew AC, Peh KK, Tan BS, Zhao W, Tangiisuran B. Evaluation of chemotherapy-induced toxicity and health-related quality of life amongst early-stage breast cancer patients receiving Chinese herbal medicine in Malaysia. Support Care Cancer 2019 Dec;27(12):4515-4524 PMID 30911917

PURPOSE: This observational study aimed to compare the outcome and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) amongst breast cancer patients using Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) and those not using CHM during chemotherapy. METHODS: A prospective, non-randomised longitudinal study was conducted in two government integrated hospitals over an 8-month period. Early-stage breast cancer patients who were (1) either already using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or not and (2) who were on a regime of 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide were included in the study. Patients who agreed to receive CHM were assigned to receive individualised CHM prescriptions deemed suitable for the individual at a particular time. Those who were not willing to take Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) were assigned to the non-CHM control group. Blood profile and chemotherapy-induced AE were recorded whilst HRQOL assessment was done using the EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire on first, third, and sixth cycles. RESULTS: Forty-seven patients [32 female vs. 1 male, p = 0.31; mean year of age: 52.2(SD = 7.6), p = 0.28)}] were recruited during the study period. Demographics of both groups were comparable. Fifty percent of respondents reported using some kind of CAM before chemotherapy. Diet supplements (40.6%) were the most common CAM used by the respondents. The study showed that patients using CHM had significantly less fatigue (p = 0.012), nausea (p = 0.04), and anorexia (p = 0.005) during chemotherapy. There were no significant differences in patients' HRQOL (p = 0.79). There were no AEs reported during the study. CONCLUSION: The use of CHM as an adjunct treatment with conventional chemotherapy have been shown to reduce fatigue, nausea, and anorexia in breast cancer patients but did not reduce chemotherapy-associated hematologic toxicity. The sample size of this study was not powered to assess the significance of HRQOL between two groups of patients.
Liu L, He X, Feng L. Exercise on quality of life and cancer-related fatigue for lymphoma survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Support Care Cancer 2019 Nov;27(11):4069-4082 PMID 31300873

BACKGROUND: People treated for lymphoma can experience several significant long-term and late effects, including fatigue and decreased quality of life. This study aimed to systematically review the evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and to conduct a meta-analysis of the effect of exercise on quality of life and other health outcomes for adults suffering from lymphoma. METHODS: We searched the following databases and sources: PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, Web of Science, and MEDLINE. Such studies would be included if they were RCT designs which focus on observing the evaluated health outcomes of exercise intervention for lymphoma patients or survivors, comparing with non-exercise or wait-list control groups. Two review authors independently screened search results, extracted data, and assessed the quality of trials. We used standardized mean differences for quality of life (QoL), fatigue, sleep quality, and depression. RESULTS: Six publications have met the inclusion criteria and the exercise interventions are short term. Slight improvement can be seen on QoL, fatigue, sleep quality, and depression due to exercise for lymphoma patients. Subgroup analysis was carried out according to the classification of mind-body exercise and aerobic exercise, and significant progress can be seen after mind-body exercise intervention in the area of fatigue and sleep. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term exercises do not appear to convey benefits to quality of life and other psychosocial outcomes. Subgroup analysis showed that physical activity together with mental exercise may be more beneficial to lymphoma patients, but it needs more research to verify this finding. The interpretation of this result should be cautious due to the baseline difference, completion efficiency of intervention process, and high heterogeneity.


Lopez G, Christie AJ, Powers-James C, Bae MS, Dibaj SS, Gomez T, et al. The effects of inpatient music therapy on self-reported symptoms at an academic cancer center: a preliminary report. Support Care Cancer 2019 Nov;27(11):4207-4212 PMID 30825024

PURPOSE: Music therapy has shown benefits for reducing distress in individuals with cancer. We explore the effects of music therapy on self-reported symptoms of patients receiving inpatient care at a comprehensive cancer center. METHODS: Music therapy was available as part of an inpatient integrative oncology consultation service; we examined interventions and symptoms for consecutive patients treated by a board-certified music therapist from September 2016 to May 2017. Patients completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS, 10 symptoms, scale 0-10, 10 most severe) before and after the intervention. Data was summarized by descriptive statistics. Changes in ESAS symptom and subscale scores (physical distress (PHS), psychological distress (PSS), and global distress (GDS)) were evaluated by Wilcoxon signed rank test. RESULTS: Data were evaluable for 96 of 100 consecutive initial, unique patient encounters; 55% were women, average age 50, and majority with hematologic malignancies (47%). Reasons for music therapy referral included anxiety/stress (67%), adjustment disorder/coping (28%), and mood elevation/depression (17%). The highest (worst) symptoms at baseline were sleep disturbance (5.7) and well-being (5.5). We observed statistically and clinically significant improvement (means) for anxiety (- 2.3 +/- 1.5), drowsiness (- 2.1 +/- 2.2), depression (- 2.1 +/- 1.9), nausea (- 2.0 +/- 2.4), fatigue (- 1.9 +/- 1.5), pain (- 1.8 +/- 1.4), shortness of breath (- 1.4 +/- 2.2), appetite (- 1.1 +/- 1.7), and for all ESAS subscales (all ps < 0.02). The highest clinical response rates were observed for anxiety (92%), depression (91%), and pain (89%). CONCLUSIONS: A single, in-person, tailored music therapy intervention as part of an integrative oncology inpatient consultation service contributed to the significant improvement in global, physical, and psychosocial distress. A randomized controlled trial is justified.


Luberto CM, Hall DL, Chad-Friedman E, Park ER. Theoretical Rationale and Case Illustration of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Fear of Cancer Recurrence. J Clin Psychol Med Settings 2019 Dec;26(4):449-460 PMID 30756278

Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a common problem among cancer survivors and evidence-based interventions grounded in theoretical models are needed. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an evidence-based intervention for reducing health anxiety that could be useful to apply to FCR. However, there has only been one study of MBCT for FCR to date, and the theoretical rationale and practical application of MBCT for FCR has not been described. The purpose of this paper is to offer an evidence-based rationale for MBCT to treat FCR based on a health anxiety model; describe the process of adapting MBCT to target FCR; and present a case study of the adapted protocol for treating FCR in a young adult breast cancer survivor to illustrate its delivery, feasibility, acceptability, and associated changes in outcomes. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Mao Y, Huang Y, Zhang Y, Wang C, Wu H, Tian X, et al. Cannabinoid receptor 2selective agonist JWH015 attenuates bone cancer pain through the amelioration of impaired autophagy flux induced by inflammatory mediators in the spinal cord. Mol Med Rep 2019 Dec;20(6):5100-5110 PMID 31661120

Bone cancer pain (BCP) is a severe complication of advanced bone cancer. Although cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonists may have an analgesic effect, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. CB2 serves a protective role in various pathological states through the activation of autophagy. Therefore, the present study aimed to determine whether the analgesic effects of the selective CB2 agonist JWH015 was mediated by the activation of autophagy in BCP. BCP was induced by the intrafemur implantation of NCTC2472 fibrosarcoma cells in C3H/HeN mice. The pain behaviors were assessed on the following postoperative days. The selective CB2 agonist JWH015 (1 and 2 microg) was intrathecally administered on day 14 following implantation. AM630 (1 microg), a CB2 antagonist, was injected 30 min before JWH015 administration. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 100 nM)stimulated primary neurons were treated with JWH015 (1 microM) and AM630 (1 microM) to further verify the mechanism by which CB2 affects autophagy. The results demonstrated that autophagy flux was impaired in spinal neurons during BCP, as indicated by the increased ratio of microtubuleassociated protein 1 light chain 3beta (LC3B)II/LC3BI and increased expression of p62. Intrathecal administration of JWH015 attenuated BCP, which was accompanied by the amelioration of impaired autophagy flux (decreased LC3BII/LC3BI ratio and decreased p62expression). In addition, the activation of glia cells and upregulation of the gliaderived inflammatory mediators, interleukin (IL)1beta and IL6 were suppressed by JWH015. In LPSstimulated primary neurons, IL1beta and IL6 were increased, and autophagy flux was impaired; whereas treatment with JWH015 decreased the expression of IL1beta and IL6, LC3BII/LC3BI ratio and expression of p62. These effects were by pretreatment with the CB2selective antagonist AM630. The results of the present study suggested that the impairment of autophagy flux was induced by gliaderived inflammatory mediators in spinal neurons. Intrathecal administration of the selective CB2 agonist JWH015 ameliorated autophagy flux through the downregulation of IL1beta and IL6 and attenuated BCP.

Peoples AR, Culakova E, Heckler CE, Shayne M, O'Connor TL, Kirshner JJ, et al. Positive effects of acupressure bands combined with relaxation music/instructions on patients most at risk for chemotherapy-induced nausea. Support Care Cancer 2019 Dec;27(12):4597-4605 PMID 30929028

PURPOSE: Research by our group has shown that acupressure bands are efficacious in reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea (CIN) for breast cancer patients who expect nausea, and that their effectiveness in controlling CIN can largely be accounted for by patients' expectations of efficacy, i.e., a placebo effect. The present research examined if the effectiveness of acupressure bands could be enhanced by boosting patients' expectation of the bands' efficacy. METHODS: Two hundred forty-two chemotherapy-naive patients with breast cancer who expected nausea were randomized. Arms 1 and 2 received acupressure bands, plus a relaxation MP3 and written handout that were either expectancy-enhancing (arm 1) or expectancy-neutral (arm 2). Arm 3 was the control without bands or MP3 and received standard care. All participants received guideline-specified antiemetics. RESULTS: Peak CIN for arms 1, 2, and 3 on a 1-7 scale was 3.52, 3.55, and 3.87, respectively (p = 0.46). Because no differences were observed between arms 1 and 2 (primary analysis), we combined these two arms (intervention) and compared them to controls for the following analyses. A significant interaction was found between intervention/control and receiving doxorubicin-based chemotherapy (yes/no) and pre-treatment anxiety (high/low). Intervention patients receiving doxorubicin had lower peak CIN than controls (3.62 vs. 4.38; p = 0.02). Similarly, intervention patients with high pre-treatment anxiety had a lower peak CIN than controls (3.62 vs. 4.62; p = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: In breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and having high CIN expectation, acupressure bands combined with a relaxation recording were effective in reducing CIN for patients who received doxorubicin or had high anxiety.


Porter LS, Carson JW, Olsen M, Carson KM, Sanders L, Jones L, et al. Feasibility of a mindful yoga program for women with metastatic breast cancer: results of a randomized pilot study. Support Care Cancer 2019 Nov;27(11):4307-4316 PMID 30877596

PURPOSE: Patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) experience high levels of symptoms. Yoga interventions have shown promise for improving cancer symptoms but have rarely been tested in patients with advanced disease. This study examined the acceptability of a comprehensive yoga program for MBC and the feasibility of conducting a randomized trial testing the intervention. METHODS: Sixty-three women with MBC were randomized with a 2:1 allocation to yoga or a support group comparison condition. Both interventions involved eight weekly group sessions. Feasibility was quantified using rates of accrual, attrition, and session attendance. Acceptability was assessed with a standardized self-report measure. Pain, fatigue, sleep quality, psychological distress, mindfulness, and functional capacity were assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and 3 and 6 months post-intervention. RESULTS: We met goals for accrual and retention, with 50% of eligible patients enrolled and 87% of randomized participants completing post-intervention surveys. Sixty-five percent of women in the yoga condition and 90% in the support group attended >/= 4 sessions. Eighty percent of participants in the yoga condition and 65% in the support group indicated that they were highly satisfied with the intervention. Following treatment, women in the yoga intervention had modest improvements in some outcomes; however, overall symptom levels were low for women in both conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that the yoga intervention content was highly acceptable to patients with MBC, but that there are challenges to implementing an intervention involving eight group-based in-person sessions. Alternative modes of delivery may be necessary to reach patients most in need of intervention.


Sun J, Zhou YQ, Chen SP, Wang XM, Xu BY, Li DY, et al. The endocannabinoid system: Novel targets for treating cancer induced bone pain. Biomed Pharmacother 2019 Dec;120:109504 PMID 31627091

Treating Cancer-induced bone pain (CIBP) continues to be a major clinical challenge and underlying mechanisms of CIBP remain unclear. Recently, emerging body of evidence suggested the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may play essential roles in CIBP. Here, we summarized the current understanding of the antinociceptive mechanisms of endocannabinoids in CIBP and discussed the beneficial effects of endocannabinoid for CIBP treatment. Targeting non-selective cannabinoid 1 receptors or selective cannabinoid 2 receptors, and modulation of peripheral AEA and 2-AG, as well as the inhibition the function of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) have produced analgesic effects in animal models of CIBP. Management of ECS therefore appears to be a promising way for the treatment of CIBP in terms of efficacy and safety. Further clinical studies are encouraged to confirm the possible translation to humans of the very promising results already obtained in the preclinical studies.

Tilburt J, Yost KJ, Lenz HJ, Zuniga ML, O'Byrne T, Branda ME, et al. A Multicenter Comparison of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Discussions in Oncology Care: The Role of Time, Patient-Centeredness, and Practice Context. Oncologist 2019 Nov;24(11):e1180-e1189 PMID 31101701

BACKGROUND: Little is known about how complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is discussed in cancer care across varied settings in the U.S. METHODS: In two practices affiliated with one academic medical center in southern California (SoCal), and one in the upper Midwest (UM), we audio-recorded patient-clinician interactions in medical oncology outpatient practices. We counted the frequency and duration of CAM-related conversations. We coded recordings using the Roter Interaction Analysis System. We used chi-square tests for bivariate analysis of categorical variables and generalized linear models for continuous variables to examine associations between dialogue characteristics, practice setting, and population characteristics with the occurrence of CAM discussion in each setting followed by multivariate models adjusting for clinician clustering. RESULTS: Sixty-one clinicians and 529 patients participated. Sixty-two of 529 (12%) interactions included CAM discussions, with significantly more observed in the SoCal university practice than in the other settings. Visits that included CAM were on average 6 minutes longer, with CAM content lasting an average of 78 seconds. In bivariate tests of association, conversations containing CAM included more psychosocial statements from both clinicians and patients, higher patient-centeredness, more positive patient and clinician affect, and greater patient engagement. In a multivariable model including significant bivariate terms, conversations containing CAM were independently associated with higher patient-centeredness, slightly longer visits, and being at the SoCal university site. CONCLUSION: The frequency of CAM-related discussion in oncology varied substantially across sites. Visits that included CAM discussion were longer and more patient centered. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The Institute of Medicine and the American Society of Clinical Oncology have called for more open discussions of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). But little is known about the role population characteristics and care contexts may play in the frequency and nature of those discussions. The present data characterizing actual conversations in practice complements a much larger literature based on patient and clinician self-report about CAM disclosure and use. It was found that CAM discussions in academic oncology visits varied significantly by practice context, that the majority were initiated by the patient, and that they may occur more when visit time exists for lifestyle, self-care, and psychosocial concerns.


Integrative Oncology Digest: December 2019

        Alimujiang A, Khoja L, Wiensch A, Pike MC, Webb PM, Chenevix-Trench G, et al. "I am not a statistic" ovarian cancer survivors' views of factors that influenced their long-term survival. Gynecol Oncol 2019 Dec;155(3):461-467 PMID 31706666

OBJECTIVE: Although a high proportion of women with advanced stage ovarian cancer die within five years, approximately 30% will survive longer than this. The factors contributing to exceptional survival are currently poorly understood. The viewpoints of ovarian cancer survivors were qualitatively explored to determine the factors they felt have influenced their exceptional ovarian cancer survival. METHODS: Four focus groups, one each in Los Angeles (California), Ann Arbor (Michigan), New York (New York) and Edmonton (Alberta, Canada), were conducted with women who had survived at least five years. Physical activity, diet, meditation, prayer, treatment, complementary medicine, and side effects were explored in semi-structured discussions. The audiotaped sessions were transcribed and coded and then analyzed using Dedoose Version 8.0.35, a qualitative analysis software. RESULTS: Of the 26 women who participated, 23 had advanced stage disease. Three overarching themes emerged: (a) survivors had improved their 'lifestyles', including but not limited to fitness and diet; (b) survivors were able to draw on strong support systems, which included family, friends, support groups, faith communities, and healthcare workers; and (c) survivors had a strong life purpose, which manifested as positivity, taking charge of their lives, and advocating for themselves. CONCLUSIONS: Long-term survivors have varying experiences with their cancer, but identified lifestyle modification, motivation and persistence, strong life purpose, and strong support systems as key elements in their better survival. These preliminary findings indicate the need for further prospective studies to determine whether meaningful differences exist between short term and long term survivors on these characteristics.

        Barchi M, Innocenzi E, Giannattasio T, Dolci S, Rossi P, Grimaldi P. Cannabinoid Receptors Signaling in the Development, Epigenetics, and Tumours of Male Germ Cells. Int J Mol Sci 2019 Dec 18;21(1):10.3390/ijms21010025 PMID 31861494

Endocannabinoids are natural lipid molecules whose levels are regulated by specific biosynthetic and degradative enzymes. They bind to and activate two main cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1) and type 2 (CB2), and together with their metabolizing enzymes form the "endocannabinoid system" (ECS). In the last years, the relevance of endocannabinoids (eCBs) as critical modulators in various aspects of male reproduction has been pointed out. Mammalian male germ cells, from mitotic to haploid stage, have a complete ECS which is modulated during spermatogenesis. Compelling evidence indicate that in the testis an appropriate "eCBs tone", associated to a balanced CB receptors signaling, is critical for spermatogenesis and for the formation of mature and fertilizing spermatozoa. Any alteration of this system negatively affects male reproduction, from germ cell differentiation to sperm functions, and might have also an impact on testicular tumours. Indeed, most of testicular tumours develop during early germ-cell development in which a maturation arrest is thought to be the first key event leading to malignant transformation. Considering the ever-growing number and complexity of the data on ECS, this review focuses on the role of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 signaling in male germ cells development from gonocyte up to mature spermatozoa and in the induction of epigenetic alterations in these cells which might be transmitted to the progeny. Furthermore, we present new evidence on their relevance in testicular cancer.

        Cevik AB, Akinci AC, Baglama SS. The use of complementary and alternative medicine among lymphoma and cancer patients with a solid tumor: Oncology clinics at Northern and Southern Turkey. Complement Ther Med 2019 Dec;47:102173 PMID 31780026

PURPOSE: This study aimed to determine the prevalence and predictors of the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and to examine the differences between patients who used CAM and those who did not among those who were being treated in oncology clinics in the northern and southern regions of Turkey. In order to collect the relevant data, 288 outpatients receiving chemotherapy were selected to participate in the study. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The research was designed as a descriptive, relational and cross-sectional study. Data was collected by the researchers using a form which had already been developed in the literature. RESULTS: As a result of our study, we found that 33.2% of the patients had stage 4 cancer and 22.9% of them had respiratory system cancer. The most commonly used form of CAM was herbal preparations, which were used by 48.4% and around 31 species of herbs were employed. 59.1% of the patients used CAM to support their conventional treatment. The prevalence of the CAM usage was determined as 32.3%. CONCLUSION: Even though a wide range of different forms of CAM are currently used by oncology patients in the northern and southern regions of Turkey, further cooperation with health professionals is needed to obtain better information about both CAM usage and medical treatment. Better informing patients about how best to use CAM in conjunction with medical treatment is also crucial.

        Cillessen L, Johannsen M, Speckens AEM, Zachariae R. Mindfulness-based interventions for psychological and physical health outcomes in cancer patients and survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychooncology 2019 Dec;28(12):2257-2269 PMID 31464026

OBJECTIVE: Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are increasingly used within psycho-oncology. Since the publication of the most recent comprehensive meta-analysis on MBIs in cancer in 2012, the number of published trials has more than doubled. We therefore conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), testing the efficacy of MBIs on measures of psychological distress (primary outcome) and other health outcomes in cancer patients and survivors. METHODS: Two authors conducted independent literature searches in electronic databases from first available date to 10 October 2018, selected eligible studies, extracted data for meta-analysis, and evaluated risk of bias. RESULTS: Twenty-nine independent RCTs (reported in 38 papers) with 3274 participants were included. Small and statistically significant pooled effects of MBIs on combined measures of psychological distress were found at post-intervention (Hedges's g = 0.32; 95%CI: 0.22-0.41; P < .001) and follow-up (g = 0.19; 95%CI: 0.07-0.30; P < .002). Statistically significant effects were also found at either post-intervention or follow-up for a range of self-reported secondary outcomes, including anxiety, depression, fear of cancer recurrence, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and pain (g: 0.20 to 0.51; p: <.001 to.047). Larger effects of MBIs on psychological distress were found in studies (a) adhering to the original MBI manuals, (b) with younger patients, (c) with passive control conditions, and (d) shorter time to follow-up. Improvements in mindfulness skills were associated with greater reductions in psychological distress at post-intervention. CONCLUSIONS: MBIs appear efficacious in reducing psychological distress and other symptoms in cancer patients and survivors. However, many of the effects were of small magnitude, suggesting a need for intervention optimization research.

        Garcia MK, Meng Z, Rosenthal DI, Shen Y, Chambers M, Yang P, et al. Effect of True and Sham Acupuncture on Radiation-Induced Xerostomia Among Patients With Head and Neck Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open 2019 Dec 2;2(12):e1916910 PMID 31808921

Importance: Radiation-induced xerostomia (RIX) is a common, often debilitating, adverse effect of radiation therapy among patients with head and neck cancer. Quality of life can be severely affected, and current treatments have limited benefit. Objective: To determine if acupuncture can prevent RIX in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiation therapy. Design, Setting, and Participants: This 2-center, phase 3, randomized clinical trial compared a standard care control (SCC) with true acupuncture (TA) and sham acupuncture (SA) among patients with oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal carcinoma who were undergoing radiation therapy in comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and China. Patients were enrolled between December 16, 2011, and July 7, 2015. Final follow-up was August 15, 2016. Analyses were conducted February 1 through 28, 2019. Intervention: Either TA or SA using a validated acupuncture placebo device was performed 3 times per week during a 6- to 7-week course of radiation therapy. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end point was RIX, as determined by the Xerostomia Questionnaire in which a higher score indicates worse RIX, for combined institutions 1 year after radiation therapy ended. Secondary outcomes included incidence of clinically significant xerostomia (score >30), salivary flow, quality of life, salivary constituents, and role of baseline expectancy related to acupuncture on outcomes. Results: Of 399 patients randomized, 339 were included in the final analysis (mean [SD] age, 51.3 [11.7] years; age range, 21-79 years; 258 [77.6%] men), including 112 patients in the TA group, 115 patients in the SA group, and 112 patients in the SCC group. For the primary aim, the adjusted least square mean (SD) xerostomia score in the TA group (26.6 [17.7]) was significantly lower than in the SCC group (34.8 [18.7]) (P = .001; effect size = -0.44) and marginally lower but not statistically significant different from the SA group (31.3 [18.6]) (P = .06; effect size = -0.26). Incidence of clinically significant xerostomia 1 year after radiation therapy ended followed a similar pattern, with 38 patients in the TA group (34.6%), 54 patients in the SA group (47.8%), and 60 patients in the SCC group (55.1%) experiencing clinically significant xerostomia (P = .009). Post hoc comparisons revealed a significant difference between the TA and SCC groups at both institutions, but TA was significantly different from SA only at Fudan University Cancer Center, Shanghai, China (estimated difference [SE]: TA vs SCC, -9.9 [2.5]; P < .001; SA vs SCC, -1.7 [2.5]; P = .50; TA vs SA, -8.2 [2.5]; P = .001), and SA was significantly different from SCC only at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas (estimated difference [SE]: TA vs SCC, -8.1 [3.4]; P = .016; SA vs SCC, -10.5 [3.3]; P = .002; TA vs SA, 2.4 [3.2]; P = .45). Conclusions and Relevance: This randomized clinical trial found that TA resulted in significantly fewer and less severe RIX symptoms 1 year after treatment vs SCC. However, further studies are needed to confirm clinical relevance and generalizability of this finding and to evaluate inconsistencies in response to sham acupuncture between patients in the United States and China. Trial Registration: identifier: NCT01266044.

        Garland SN, Xie SX, DuHamel K, Bao T, Li Q, Barg FK, et al. Acupuncture Versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst 2019 Dec 1;111(12):1323-1331 PMID 31081899

BACKGROUND: Insomnia is a common and debilitating disorder experienced by cancer survivors. Although cancer survivors express a preference for using nonpharmacological treatment to manage insomnia, the comparative effectiveness between acupuncture and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) for this disorder is unknown. METHODS: This randomized trial compared 8 weeks of acupuncture (n = 80) and CBT-I (n = 80) in cancer survivors. Acupuncture involved stimulating specific points on the body with needles. CBT-I included sleep restriction, stimulus control, cognitive restructuring, relaxation training, and education. We measured insomnia severity (primary outcome), pain, fatigue, mood, and quality of life posttreatment (8 weeks) with follow-up until 20 weeks. We used linear mixed-effects models for analyses. All statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: The mean age was 61.5 years and 56.9% were women. CBT-I was more effective than acupuncture posttreatment (P < .001); however, both acupuncture and CBT-I produced clinically meaningful reductions in insomnia severity (acupuncture: -8.31 points, 95% confidence interval = -9.36 to -7.26; CBT-I: -10.91 points, 95% confidence interval = -11.97 to -9.85) and maintained improvements up to 20 weeks. Acupuncture was more effective for pain at the end of treatment; both groups had similar improvements in fatigue, mood, and quality of life and reduced prescription hypnotic medication use. CBT-I was more effective for those who were male (P < .001), white (P = .003), highly educated (P < .001), and had no pain at baseline (P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Although both treatments produced meaningful and durable improvements, CBT-I was more effective and should be the first line of therapy. The relative differences in the comparative effectiveness between the two interventions for specific groups should be confirmed in future adequately powered trials to guide more tailored interventions for insomnia.

        Good P, Haywood A, Gogna G, Martin J, Yates P, Greer R, et al. Oral medicinal cannabinoids to relieve symptom burden in the palliative care of patients with advanced cancer: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomised clinical trial of efficacy and safety of cannabidiol (CBD). BMC Palliat Care 2019 Dec 6;18(1):110-019-0494-6 PMID 31810437

BACKGROUND: Despite improvements in medical care, patients with advanced cancer still experience substantial symptom distress. There is increasing interest in the use of medicinal cannabinoids, but there is little high quality evidence to guide clinicians. This study aims to define the role of cannabidiol (CBD) in the management of symptom burden in patients with advanced cancer undergoing standard palliative care. METHODS AND DESIGN: This study is a multicentre, randomised, placebo controlled, two arm, parallel trial of escalating doses of oral CBD. It will compare efficacy and safety outcomes of a titrated dose of CBD (100 mg/mL formulation, dose range 50 mg to 600 mg per day) against placebo. There is a 2-week patient determined titration phase, using escalating doses of CBD or placebo to reach a dose that achieves symptom relief with tolerable side effects. This is then followed by a further 2-week assessment period on the stable dose determined in collaboration with clinicians. DISCUSSION: A major strength of this study is that it will target symptom burden as a whole, rather than just individual symptoms, in an attempt to describe the general improvement in wellbeing previously reported by some patients in open label, non controlled trials of medicinal cannabis. Randomisation with placebo is essential because of the well-documented over reporting of benefit in uncontrolled trials and high placebo response rates in cancer pain trials. This will be the first placebo controlled clinical trial to evaluate rigorously the efficacy, safety and acceptability of CBD for symptom relief in advanced cancer patients. This study will provide the medical community with evidence to present to patients wishing to access medicinal cannabis for their cancer related symptoms. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ALCTRN12618001220257 Registered 20/07/2018.

        Hou W, Pei L, Song Y, Wu J, Geng H, Chen L, et al. Acupuncture therapy for breast cancer-related lymphedema: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Obstet Gynaecol Res 2019 Dec;45(12):2307-2317 PMID 31608558

This study aimed to conduct a comprehensive analysis of clinical studies on acupuncture treatment for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL), so as to explore the efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment and provide evidence for the clinical decision-making. Public databases, mainly including China Academic Journals Full-text Database, Database of Chinese Sci-Tech Journal, Wanfang, PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library, from the establishment of databases to December 2018 were searched for randomized controlled trials (RCT) of acupuncture for BCRL. Clinical RCT on the treatment of BCRL with acupuncture combined with drugs or functional exercise were enrolled for the analysis. Bias risk and quality were assessed by two investigators according to the Cochrane Handbook 5.1.0 standard, and the Revman 5.3 software was used for meta-analysis. A total of 13 studies were enrolled, comprising 747 patients (377 in the treatment group and 370 in the control group). The results of meta-analysis showed that acupuncture intervention could improve the total effective rate for the treatment of BCRL (odds ratio = 4.62; 95% confidence interval 2.61-8.17). Recent studies suggest that acupuncture therapy can alleviate the upper limb swelling and improve the subjective pain and discomfort in patients with BCRL, regardless of the control intervention used. However, the number of high-quality RCT is low. Moreover, most of the studies adopted inconsistent efficacy indicators. Hence, additional blinded, large-sample, randomized, well-controlled studies with objective and uniform efficacy indicators are needed, especially in China, to confirm the findings.

        Le Rhun E, Devos P, Bourg V, Darlix A, Lorgis V, Ahle G, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine use in glioma patients in France. J Neurooncol 2019 Dec;145(3):487-499 PMID 31637628

PURPOSE: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use increases in cancer patients, including adult patients with diffuse gliomas. METHODS: Questionnaires addressing CAM use were distributed to adult patients with gliomas of WHO grades II-IV and ECOG performance score of 0-2 during hospital visits and filled in anonymously. The study was conducted in nine centers in France from May 2017 to May 2018. Descriptive cohort analyses and comparative analyses according to gender, age, WHO grade, and recurrent versus newly diagnosed disease were conducted. RESULTS: Two hundred twenty-seven questionnaires were collected; 135 patients (59%) were male. Median age was 48 years, 105 patients (46%) declared having glioblastoma, 99 patients (43%) declared having recurrent disease. Hundred-three patients (45%) had modified their alimentary habits after the glioma diagnosis. At the time of the questionnaire, 100 patients (44%) were on complementary treatment, mainly vitamins and food supplements, and 73 patients (32%) used alternative medicine approaches, mainly magnetism and acupuncture. In total, 154 patients (68%) declared using at least one of these approaches. Expenditures exceeding 100 euro per month were reported by users in 14% for modification of alimentary habits, in 25% for complementary treatment, and in 18% for alternative medicines. All approaches were commonly considered as improving quality of life and experienced as efficient, notably those associated with more expenditures. CONCLUSIONS: CAM are frequently used by glioma patients in France. Underlying needs and expectations, as well as potential interactions with tumor-specific treatments, and financial and quality of life burden, should be discussed with patients and caregivers.


        Ludmir EB, Jethanandani A, Mainwaring W, Miller AB, Lin TA, Espinoza AF, et al. The Trials (and Tribulations) of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Oncology. J Natl Cancer Inst 2019 Dec 1;111(12):1358-1360 PMID 31165160

Two decades following the creation of the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Cancer Institute, the status of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research within oncology remains opaque. To better understand the landscape of CAM studies in oncology, we identified CAM-related phase III randomized controlled trials (RCTs) through and compared these CAM trials to all non-CAM oncologic RCTs. Pearson chi2 testing was used to compare proportions across groups; all tests were two-sided. Comparing the 25 identified CAM RCTs with 739 non-CAM RCTs, CAM studies were more likely to be sponsored by a cooperative group (64.0% vs 28.6%, P < .001) and less likely to be industry funded (8.0% vs 76.5%, P < .001). CAM trials disproportionately excluded disease-related outcomes as endpoints (8.0% vs 84.6%, P < .001), were unsupported by prior early-phase data (55.0% vs 96.1%, P < .001), and did not meet the primary endpoint (8.7% vs 53.0%, P < .001). Given the observed relationship between encouraging pilot data and subsequent phase III trial success, we contend that future CAM RCTs may yield more promising findings if better supported by appropriately designed and well-characterized early-phase signals.

        Peoples AR, Culakova E, Heckler CE, Shayne M, O'Connor TL, Kirshner JJ, et al. Positive effects of acupressure bands combined with relaxation music/instructions on patients most at risk for chemotherapy-induced nausea. Support Care Cancer 2019 Dec;27(12):4597-4605 PMID 30929028

PURPOSE: Research by our group has shown that acupressure bands are efficacious in reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea (CIN) for breast cancer patients who expect nausea, and that their effectiveness in controlling CIN can largely be accounted for by patients' expectations of efficacy, i.e., a placebo effect. The present research examined if the effectiveness of acupressure bands could be enhanced by boosting patients' expectation of the bands' efficacy. METHODS: Two hundred forty-two chemotherapy-naive patients with breast cancer who expected nausea were randomized. Arms 1 and 2 received acupressure bands, plus a relaxation MP3 and written handout that were either expectancy-enhancing (arm 1) or expectancy-neutral (arm 2). Arm 3 was the control without bands or MP3 and received standard care. All participants received guideline-specified antiemetics. RESULTS: Peak CIN for arms 1, 2, and 3 on a 1-7 scale was 3.52, 3.55, and 3.87, respectively (p = 0.46). Because no differences were observed between arms 1 and 2 (primary analysis), we combined these two arms (intervention) and compared them to controls for the following analyses. A significant interaction was found between intervention/control and receiving doxorubicin-based chemotherapy (yes/no) and pre-treatment anxiety (high/low). Intervention patients receiving doxorubicin had lower peak CIN than controls (3.62 vs. 4.38; p = 0.02). Similarly, intervention patients with high pre-treatment anxiety had a lower peak CIN than controls (3.62 vs. 4.62; p = 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: In breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and having high CIN expectation, acupressure bands combined with a relaxation recording were effective in reducing CIN for patients who received doxorubicin or had high anxiety.

        Poletti S, Razzini G, Ferrari R, Ricchieri MP, Spedicato GA, Pasqualini A, et al. Mindfulness-Based stress reduction in early palliative care for people with metastatic cancer: A mixed-method study. Complement Ther Med 2019 Dec;47:102218 PMID 31780005

OBJECTIVES: To explore the impact of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention for people with metastatic cancer integrated in Early Palliative Care (EPC). DESIGN: Mixed-method study. SETTINGS/LOCATION: EPC Service integrated with Oncology Unit, Carpi General Hospital, Italy from January to October 2017. The MBSR intervention took place inside the hospital. SUBJECTS: Study participation was offered to 25 consecutive people referred to the EPC service. INCLUSION CRITERIA: people with metastatic cancer between 18 and 75 years old; informed consent. EXCLUSION CRITERIA: Performance Status <60% according to Karnofsky scale; active psychiatric disorder. 20 patients were included in the study. INTERVENTION: The adapted program consists of 8 meetings for 2.5 h once a week, a 4.5 h session between the 6th and 7th weeks and 0.5 h home practice daily. The following mindfulness practices were included during the training: formal sitting meditation, body scan, light yoga, walking meditation, and Aikido exercises. Participants were provided with materials for home practice. A qualified MBSR instructor conducted the program. Sessions were attended by a clinical psychologist and a physician trained in meditation, together with the palliative nurse as facilitators. OUTCOME MEASURES: Feasibility and acceptability were assessed on 16 participants. In addition, pre-post measures of cancer pain and mood state were collected. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted on a subset of 8 participants at the end of the study and analysed using the Interpretative-Phenomenological approach. RESULTS: MBSR attendance to meetings and adherence to home practice were 75%. MBSR intervention helped participants to develop an accepting attitude in respect to metastatic cancer disease helping them to face anxiety and cancer pain. MBSR improves self-regulation of mood state engendering feelings of compassion MBSR program supports participants in questioning and reconnecting with their values and spiritual beliefs. CONCLUSIONS: A Mindfulness intervention integrated into EPC setting is feasible, well accepted and could help metastatic cancer patients to control cancer pain together with an opportunity of emotional and spiritual relief.

        Shaw AC, McQuade JL, Reilley MJ, Nixon B, Baile WF, Epner DE. Integrating Storytelling into a Communication Skills Teaching Program for Medical Oncology Fellows. J Cancer Educ 2019 Dec;34(6):1198-1203 PMID 30219971

Oncology training focuses primarily on biomedical content rather than psychosocial content, which is not surprising in light of the enormous volume of technical information that oncology fellows assimilate in a short time. Nonetheless, the human connection, and specifically communication skills, remains as important as ever in caring for highly vulnerable patients with cancer. We previously described a year-long communication skills curriculum for oncology fellows that consisted of monthly 1-hour seminars with role play as the predominant teaching method (Epner and Baile, Acad Med. 89:578-84, 2014). Over several years, we adapted the curriculum based on learner feedback and reflection by faculty and teaching assistants and consolidated sessions into quarterly 3-4-hour workshops. We now describe integrating stories into the curriculum as a way of building empathy and warming fellows to the arduous task of dealing with highly emotional content, such as conversations with young patients about transitioning off disease-directed therapy. Learners read and discussed published, medically themed stories; discussed their own patient care stories; and completed brief writing reflections and discussions. They then worked in small groups facilitated by faculty and upper level fellows who functioned as teaching assistants to work on applying specific skills and strategies to scenarios that they chose. Fellows completed anonymous surveys on which they rated the curriculum highly for relevance, value, organization, content, and teaching methods, including storytelling aspects. We conclude that sharing stories can help highly technical learners build reflective ability, mindfulness, and empathy, which are all critical ingredients of the art of medicine.

        Vallim ETA, Marques ADCB, Coelho RCFP, Guimaraes PRB, Felix JVC, Kalinke LP. Auricular acupressure in the quality of life of women with breast cancer: a randomized clinical trial. Rev Esc Enferm USP 2019 Dec 2;53:e03525-220X2018043603525. eCollection 2019 PMID 31800817

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of an auricular acupressure intervention on the quality of life of women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy compared with those who did not undergo the intervention. METHOD: A randomized clinical trial with 54 women followed weekly for 12 weeks, with 27 being allocated to the intervention group in which crystal pellets were applied to six acupoints (shen men, kidney, stomach, cardia, brainstem and endocrine), and 27 in the control group. Quality of life was measured in five stages; the first before starting the intervention, and the following stages every three weeks using the Quality of Life Questionnaire - Core 30 and the Quality of Life Questionnaire - Breast Cancer BR-23 instruments. RESULTS: There was improvement in all domains related to quality of life; however, there was significance regarding nausea, vomiting and breast symptoms in the intervention group. CONCLUSION: Auricular acupressure has proven to be a safe, effective, low cost method with no side effects and easily applicable by trained nurses. It may be recommended as complementary therapy in treating breast cancer to improve the quality of life of these women. The study was registered in the Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials with the code no. RBR-36zcfg.

        Victorson D, McMahon M, Horowitz B, Glickson S, Parker B, Mendoza-Temple L. Exploring cancer survivors' attitudes, perceptions, and concerns about using medical cannabis for symptom and side effect management: A qualitative focus group study. Complement Ther Med 2019 Dec;47:102204 PMID 31779995

The purpose of this study is to gain a greater understanding of cancer survivors' attitudes, perspectives, and concerns about medical cannabinoids (MCs) for cancer symptom and side effect management. Using qualitative methods, we conducted four focus groups (n=19) with cancer survivors recruited from a community-based cancer wellness center. Groups were audio-recorded and facilitated by experienced co-moderators who directed discussion using a semi-structured interview guide. Transcripts were coded using principles from Grounded Theory. Analyses revealed the following ten themes and percentages of codes applied: 1) Attitudes & Beliefs (25.3%), 2) Access (17.1%), 3) Information (15.5%), 4) Concern (14%), 5) How MCs Helped (12.6%), 6) Comfort (4.3%), 7) Confusion (3.6%), 8) Trust/Distrust (3.1%), 9) Behaviors (2.3%), and 10) Support (2.2%). Participants reported that MCs offer potential benefits for symptom management and side effect relief, especially in reducing and managing pain. Despite the growing number of states that are legalizing MCs, significant barriers exist that make knowledge and adequate access a challenge for many.

        Voiss P, Hoxtermann MD, Dobos G, Cramer H. Cancer, sleep problems, and mind-body medicine use: Results of the 2017 National Health Interview Survey. Cancer 2019 Dec 15;125(24):4490-4497 PMID 31524958

BACKGROUND: Sleep problems affect physical and emotional well-being as well as immune system function. Evidence has demonstrated an improvement in sleep problems in patients with cancer through the use of mind-body medicine (MBM). In the current study, the authors sought to elucidate the prevalence of sleep problems and the use of MBM in adult cancer survivors. METHODS: The authors analyzed data from the 2017 US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to estimate the prevalence of sleep problems and use of MBM in adult cancer survivors using means, standard deviations, weighted frequencies, and distributions. Backward stepwise multiple logistic regression analyses were used to identify independent predictors of MBM use within the past 12 months: age, sex, ethnicity, region, educational level, employment, and time since cancer diagnosis. RESULTS: A weighted total of 13,750,028 cancer survivors (59.2%) reported sleep problems. For the most part, survivors with sleep problems were aged >/=40 years, female, and non-Hispanic white. More survivors with (weighted N = 3,794,493; 27.6%) compared with without (weighted N = 1,695,435; 17.9%) sleep problems used MBM. Among cancer survivors with sleep problems, the most commonly used mind-body practice was spiritual meditation (weighted N = 1,972,578; 14.3%), followed by yoga (weighted N = 1,695,553; 17.9%). The use of MBM was independently predicted by being female, living in the western United States, having a higher educational level, and being employed. CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of sleep problems in cancer survivors is a major health issue that needs to be addressed. A considerable number of cancer survivors with sleep problems use MBM. This finding warrants the investigation of MBM concepts as treatment options for cancer survivors experiencing sleep problems.

        Yeh CH, Lukkahatai N, Campbell C, Sair H, Zhang F, Mensah S, et al. Preliminary Effectiveness of Auricular Point Acupressure on Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy: Part 1 Self-Reported Outcomes. Pain Manag Nurs 2019 Dec;20(6):614-622 PMID 31155279

PURPOSE: To reduce chemotherapy-induced neuropathy (CIN)-a significant challenge among cancer patients following chemotherapy-we explored the effects of auricular point acupressure (APA), which involves needleless, acupuncture-like stimulation on specific ear points. DESIGN/METHOD: This pilot study examined the effects of a 4-week APA intervention in the management of CIN. Descriptive analysis was used to examine the changes in study outcomes. RESULTS: Fifteen participants were enrolled. Two participants dropped out because they developed new medical conditions. Thirteen participants completed the study (87% retention rate). Study participants had more severe symptoms in their lower extremities (i.e., toes, feet, soles) than in their upper extremities (i.e., fingers, wrists, elbows). After the 4-week APA intervention, the mean percentage change scores ranged from 38% (tingling) to 49% (numbness); compared to pre-intervention, the therapeutic effects of APA were sustained at the 1-month follow-up. Function in both upper and lower extremities improved after the APA intervention (>/=28%) and continued to improve at the 1-month follow-up (>/=36%). CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary results from this small sample provide initial evidence of the effectiveness of APA on CIN. Future studies should confirm these results using a larger sample, a comparative sham control, and an examination of the underlying physiological mechanisms of the anti-CIN effects of APA. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: APA may provide an inexpensive and effective complementary approach for the self-management of CIN. Once the seeds have been taped to the patient's ear by the provider, patients are empowered to self-manage their CIN in their own environment.