Current evidence of acupuncture for symptoms related to breast cancer survivors: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review of clinical studies in Korea

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Abstract

Background:

Breast cancer survivors experience various symptoms associated with their cancer interventions, and the benefits of acupuncture for these symptoms have been evaluated in clinical trials worldwide. The purpose of this review was to discuss the current status of clinical research regarding the use of acupuncture as a part of traditional Korean medicine (KM) for various symptoms associated with breast cancer therapies.

Methods:

We conducted a systematic review of the literature regarding the use of acupuncture as a part of traditional KM to treat symptoms associated with breast cancer therapies. The following databases were searched for content up to February 2017: MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane library, 4 Korean databases, and conference proceedings from major Korean medical societies.

Results:

Among the 1228 identified articles, 8 observational studies (3 case series and 5 case reports), and 1 randomized controlled trial (RCT) were included in this review. Among these studies, 3 investigated lymphedema, 2 investigated chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, 1 investigated hot flushes, 1 investigated constipation, and 2 investigated miscellaneous symptoms in breast cancer survivors; all studies concluded that acupuncture can alleviate the symptom in question. However, we identified only 1 relevant RCT, and the included studies had limitations in terms of reporting quality.

Conclusion:

There is a lack of conclusive evidence regarding the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of breast cancer survivors in Korea. More rigorous RCTs are necessary in the future to establish stronger clinical evidence regarding the use of acupuncture to better reflect the clinical context of Korea.

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