Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 804746, 14 pages
Review Article

Pharmacopuncture for Cancer Care: A Systematic Review

1Department of Korean Medical Science, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University, Kyung Hee Dae-ro 26, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea
2Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Kyung Hee Dae-ro 26, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea
3Hospital of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Kyung Hee Dae-ro 23, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea

Received 25 February 2014; Accepted 28 March 2014; Published 12 May 2014

Academic Editor: Yoshiharu Motoo

Copyright © 2014 Soyeon Cheon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Pharmacopuncture, injection to acupoints with pharmacological medication or herbal medicine, is a new acupuncture therapy widely available in Korea and China for cancer-related symptoms. However, the evidence is yet to be clear. Objective. To determine pharmacopuncture’s effectiveness on cancer-related symptoms. Methods. Eleven databases were searched for randomized controlled trials of pharmacopuncture in cancer patients. The Cochrane risk of bias (ROB) assessment tool was used for quality assessment. Results. Twenty-two studies involving 2,459 patients were included. Five trials of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) underwent meta-analysis. Pharmacopuncture significantly relieved severity of CINV compared with control group (3 trials, risk ratio (RR) 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.14–1.44). The frequency of CINV was also significantly reduced with pharmacopuncture (2 trials, RR 2.47, 95% CI = 2.12–2.89). Seventeen trials studied various symptoms, and in most studies, pharmacopuncture significantly relieved pain, ileus, hiccup, fever, and gastrointestinal symptoms and improved quality of life in various cancer patients. ROB was generally high. Conclusion. It may be suggested with caution that pharmacopuncture may help various symptom relief in cancer patients, but it is hard to draw a firm conclusion due to clinical heterogeneity and high ROB of the included studies, hence warranting further investigation.