January 2019 Research Findings
Kim K, Lee S. Intradermal Acupuncture Along with Analgesics for Pain Control in Advanced Cancer Cases: A Pilot, Randomized, Patient-Assessor-Blinded, Controlled Trial. Integr Cancer Ther 2018 Dec;17(4):1137-1143 PMID 30009652
I think this study of 27 patients was really a Phase I study, meaning that safety of acupuncture was effectively shown in advanced cancer patients. While 1/3 of patients in the sham arm of the study responded, essentially 2/3 of the patients in the non-sham acuture arm responded. While the magnitude of response may seem low, at first glance (mean 1.54 points on a 10 point scale), this pain perception change is meaningfully impactful to patients. While the authors did not specifically comment on signs such as constipation, these are vital to assess, as often advanced cancer patient is burdened with continuous pain, and the signs/symptoms of narcotics, which can be burdensome. Further studies may incorporate non-traditional endpoints besides pain scores.
Lopez G, Chaoul A, Powers-James C, Eddy CA, Mallaiah S, Gomez TI, et al. Group Yoga Effects on Cancer Patient and Caregiver Symptom Distress: Assessment of Self-reported Symptoms at a Comprehensive Cancer Center. Integr Cancer Ther 2018 Dec;17(4):1087-1094 PMID 30168358
This nicely done study of over 200 participants who completed both pre and post symptom inventory questionnaires at a large comprehensive cancer center showed both patients AND caregivers experiened improvements in multiple symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and well being. Intriguingly, the authors found that a lower intensity yoga class was better at helping with help than a higher intensity yoga class, and that the low intensity yoga class was most beneficial at helping with fatigue, even if just one class was taken! It would be very interesting to look at the dyadic pairs of patients and their caregivers to see whether symptom improvement tracked together. This kind of research will help to provide precision care tailored to the needs of the patient, and caregivers.