Acupuncture/ pressureCancer

Self-acupuncture to control hot flushes in patients with breast and prostate cancer

Vasomotor symptoms can be extreme in patients with breast cancer or prostate cancer who are undergoing anticancer therapy. At the Royal Marsden Hospital in the U.K., an audit of 159 patients experiencing an average of 16 flushes per day revealed that self-acupuncture is associated with long-term relief of vasomotor symptoms in cancer patients.

Here’s a summary of the results

  • 79% experienced at least a 50% reduction in hot flushes; 21% had less than 50% reduction
  • Treatment was discontinued in those who responded poorly or not at all
  • Duration of treatment ranged from one month to over 6 years (average 9 months
  • 9% experienced minor side effects over the 6-year period (mostly minor rashes)

For cancer patients who respond initially, acupuncture — including self-acupuncture — is associated with long-term improvement in vasomotor symptoms.

The authors recommend the use of self-acupuncture with needles at SP6 in preference to semipermanent needles initially. Poor responders can use indwelling studs if they fail to respond adequately to self-acupuncture with regular needles. Point location may be of less importance than the overall “dose”, and an appropriate minimum dose may be required to initiate the effect.

9/24/06 10:46 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.