A systematic review of acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

Curr Oncol. 2019 Apr;26(2):e147-e154. doi: 10.3747/co.26.4261. Epub 2019 Apr 1.


Objectives: In cancer patients, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (cipn) is a common complication, characterized by pain, loss of sensation, and numbness. Medical treatment for peripheral neuropathies has been shown to be ineffective for cipn. Acupuncture has been shown to be safe and effective in treating cancer-related symptoms and other peripheral neuropathies. For the present review, we aimed to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of cipn.

Design: Comprehensive searches for relevant studies were conducted in Ovid embase, the Web of Science, Ovid medline, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (central), cinahl (ebsco Information Services, Ipswich, MA, U.S.A.), and the ClinicalTrials.gov Web site. References from previous systematic reviews were also searched. Additional trials were found in the reference lists of relevant papers and in searches of Google Scholar and acupuncture-specific Web sites. Included studies were randomized controlled trials (rcts) of any type of acupuncture used to treat patients with cipn.

Results: Three clinical trials (203 participants) were included. Two studies found acupuncture to be effective in alleviating cipn pain and improving quality of life. One study found no benefit in improving neuropathic pain, symptoms, or quality of life. Study quality was variable and included a moderate overall risk of bias.

Conclusions: The evidence is insufficient to recommend acupuncture for the treatment or prevention of cipn. Further research is needed to evaluate the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of cipn. Given that acupuncture is considered safe and might provide relief for patients, it can be considered at the clinician's discretion.

Keywords: Acupuncture; chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; cipn; integrative oncology; systematic reviews.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antineoplastic Agents