Moxibustion as an Adjuvant Therapy for Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Pain Res. 2023 Feb 17;16:515-525. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S396696. eCollection 2023.


Purpose: Pain is one of the most common and feared symptoms among cancer patients. Unrelieved pain denies patients comfort and greatly affects their overall quality of life. Moxibustion is commonly used to manage chronic pain. However, its efficacy on cancer pain remains inconclusive. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of moxibustion for cancer pain.

Methods: We searched seven databases to obtain articles about moxibustion combined with pharmacotherapy for cancer pain published before November 2022. All data extraction was carried out independently by two investigators. RevMan 5.4 software was used for data analysis.

Results: A total of ten trials involving 999 cases were included. The results of the meta-analysis revealed that moxibustion combined with pharmacotherapy was significantly better than drug therapy alone in improving pain relief rate (RR =1.16, 95% CI = [1.04, 1.30], P = 0.01), reducing pain scores (SMD = -1.43, 95% CI = [-2.09, -0.77], P < 0.0001), Shortening the onset of analgesia (MD = -12.07, 95% CI = [-12.91, -11.22], P < 0.00001), prolonging the duration of analgesia (MD = 3.69, 95% CI = [3.21, 4.18], P < 0.00001), and improving quality of life (SMD = 2.48, 95% CI = [0.67, 4.29], P = 0.007). In addition, moxibustion combined with pharmacotherapy can effectively reduce adverse reactions of drugs (RR =0.35, 95% CI = [0.21, 0.57], P < 0.0001).

Conclusion: The evidence in this review supports moxibustion as an effective adjuvant therapy for cancer pain management. However, high-quality RCTs are needed to further confirm these findings.

Registration number: PROSPERO CRD42022370942.

Keywords: cancer pain; meta-analysis; moxibustion; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine Cultivation Discipline Construction-Science of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (1241800102).