Acupuncture Treatment for Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema: A Randomized Pilot Study. Lymphatic research and biology Friedman, R., Johnson, A. R., Shillue, K., Fleishman, A., Mistretta, C., Magrini, L., Tran, B. N., Rockson, S. G., Lu, W., Yeh, G. Y., Singhal, D. 2023


Background: Methods of conservative management for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) are burdensome in terms of time, cost, and convenience. In addition, many patients are not candidates for surgical treatment. Preliminary results have demonstrated possible beneficial effects of acupuncture for patients with BCRL. In this small pilot study, we examined the safety and feasibility of an acupuncture randomized control trial (RCT) in this patient cohort, utilizing a battery of standardized clinical and patient-centered outcome measures. Methods and Results: Patients with BCRL were randomized 2:1 to the acupuncture (n?=?10) or the control (n?=?4) group. Patients received acupuncture to the unaffected extremity biweekly for 6 weeks. Feasibility was defined as enrollment =80%, completion of =9 of 12 acupuncture sessions per person, and =75% completion of three of three measurement visits. To inform a future adequately powered RCT, we describe within-group changes in patient-centered outcomes, including circumferential measurements, bioimpedance spectroscopy, perometry, cytokine levels, and patient quality of life. Adverse events were systematically tracked. Fourteen patients completed the study. Of those who received acupuncture (n?=?10), 8 completed all 12 acupuncture sessions, and 2 patients completed 11 sessions. Ninety-three percent of all participants completed all three measurement visits. There was no consistent improvement in arm volumes. Inflammatory marker levels had inconclusive fluctuations among both groups. All patients receiving acupuncture demonstrated an improvement in their functional quality-of-life score. No severe adverse events occurred. Conclusions: A randomized controlled study of acupuncture for BCRL is feasible. The acupuncture intervention is acceptable in this population, without safety concerns in a small sample and warrants further investigation.

View details for DOI 10.1089/lrb.2022.0001

View details for PubMedID 37083501