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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 1720239, 13 pages
Review Article

Acupuncture for Pain Management in Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

1The Second Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510405, China
2Department of Oncology, Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510120, China

Received 2 October 2015; Revised 30 December 2015; Accepted 6 January 2016

Academic Editor: Ke Ren

Copyright © 2016 Caiqiong Hu 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.


Objective. To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for cancer-related pain. Methods. A systematic review of literatures published from database inception to February 2015 was conducted in eight databases. RCTs involving acupuncture for treatment of cancer-related pain were identified. Two researchers independently performed article selection, data extraction, and quality assessment of data. Results. 1,639 participants in twenty RCTs were analyzed. All selected RCTs were associated with high risk of bias. Meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture alone did not have superior pain-relieving effects as compared with conventional drug therapy. However, as compared with the drug therapy alone, acupuncture plus drug therapy resulted in increased pain remission rate, shorter onset time of pain relief, longer pain-free duration, and better quality of life without serious adverse effects. However, GRADE analysis revealed that the quality of all outcomes about acupuncture plus drug therapy was very low. Conclusions. Acupuncture plus drug therapy is more effective than conventional drug therapy alone for cancer-related pain. However, multicenter high-quality RCTs with larger sample sizes are needed to provide stronger evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in cancer-related pain due to the low data quality of the studies included in the current meta-analysis.