Acupuncture for Pain Management in Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016:2016:1720239. doi: 10.1155/2016/1720239. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


Objective. To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for cancer-related pain. Methods. A systematic review of literatures published from database inception to February 2015 was conducted in eight databases. RCTs involving acupuncture for treatment of cancer-related pain were identified. Two researchers independently performed article selection, data extraction, and quality assessment of data. Results. 1,639 participants in twenty RCTs were analyzed. All selected RCTs were associated with high risk of bias. Meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture alone did not have superior pain-relieving effects as compared with conventional drug therapy. However, as compared with the drug therapy alone, acupuncture plus drug therapy resulted in increased pain remission rate, shorter onset time of pain relief, longer pain-free duration, and better quality of life without serious adverse effects. However, GRADE analysis revealed that the quality of all outcomes about acupuncture plus drug therapy was very low. Conclusions. Acupuncture plus drug therapy is more effective than conventional drug therapy alone for cancer-related pain. However, multicenter high-quality RCTs with larger sample sizes are needed to provide stronger evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in cancer-related pain due to the low data quality of the studies included in the current meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Review