Acupuncture for patients with cancer-induced xerostomia: a systematic review protocol

BMJ Open. 2019 Dec 16;9(12):e031892. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031892.


Introduction: Xerostomia is a common symptom in patients with cancer. Currently available methods to manage xerostomia include stringent oral hygiene using fluoride agents and antimicrobials, saliva substitutes and sialagogic agents, but side effects such as headache, dizziness and sweating can occur with these therapies. Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture may be effective in treating xerostomia. The objective of this systematic review is to assess the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture treatment for xerostomia caused by cancer.

Methods and analysis: This systematic review will incorporate articles identified by electronically searching the following databases: PubMed, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, AMED, EMbase, WorldSciNet, Nature, Science Online, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, the Chongqing VIP Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database, the Wanfang Database and China Biology Medicine Disc from inception to 1 December 2019. Other sources including conference proceedings and reference lists of identified publications and existing systematic reviews will also be searched. Two reviewers will independently search the databases, perform data extraction and assess the quality of studies. Data will be synthesised using either a fixed-effects model or a random-effects model, according to heterogeneity testing. Patient-reported change in the Visual Analogue Scale or the Xerostomia Inventory will be assessed as the primary outcome. Saliva collection, whole saliva production and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30 will be evaluated as secondary outcomes. RevMan V. 5.3 will be employed for data analysis. The results will be expressed as risk ratios for dichotomous data and mean differences for continuous data.

Ethics and dissemination: This protocol will not evaluate individual patient information or affect patient rights and therefore does not require ethical approval. Results from this review will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and conference reports.

Trial registration number: CRD42019129069.

Keywords: acupuncture; cancer; systematic review; xerostomia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Xerostomia / etiology
  • Xerostomia / therapy*