Electroacupuncture use for treatment of taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy in patients with breast cancer: protocol for a pilot, randomised, blinded, sham-controlled trial (EA for CIPN)

BMJ Open. 2024 Jan 9;14(1):e076391. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-076391.


Introduction: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common dose-limiting side effect of neurotoxic chemotherapy. Acute symptoms of CIPN during treatment can lead to dose reduction and cessation. Trials using electroacupuncture (EA) to treat established CIPN postchemotherapy have shown some efficacy. The current trial aims to assess the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of using EA to treat CIPN during chemotherapy.

Methods and analysis: The current study is a single-centre, 1:1 randomised, sham-controlled pilot study set in a tertiary cancer hospital in Sydney, Australia, and will recruit 40 adult patients with early breast cancer undergoing adjuvant or neoadjuvant paclitaxel chemotherapy. Patients who develop CIPN within the first 6 weeks of chemotherapy will receive either true EA or sham-EA once a week for 10 weeks. The coprimary endpoints are recruitment and adherence rate, successful blinding of patients and compliance with the follow-up period. Secondary endpoints are mean change of CIPN symptoms from randomisation to end of treatment, sustained change in CIPN symptoms at 8-week and 24-week follow-up postchemotherapy, proportion of subjects attaining completion of 12 weeks of chemotherapy without dose reduction or cessation, change in acupuncture expectancy response pretreatment, during treatment and posttreatment. The primary assessment tool for the secondary endpoints will be a validated patient-reported outcome measure (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy) captured weekly from randomisation to week 12 of chemotherapy.

Ethics and dissemination: The study protocol (2021/ETH12123) has been approved by the institutional Human Research Ethics Committee at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney and Chris O'Brien Lifehouse. Informed consent will be obtained prior to starting study-related procedures. The results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific conferences.

Trial registration number: ACTRN12622000081718.

Keywords: CIPN; Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy; breast cancer; electroacupuncture; taxane.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases* / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Taxoids / adverse effects


  • taxane
  • Taxoids
  • Antineoplastic Agents