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23-05-2010 | Oncology | Article

Acupuncture may help with hot flashes in prostate cancer patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Acupuncture may be an active nonpharmacologic option for prostate cancer patients who experience hot flashes after treatment with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), say US researchers.

Previous studies have shown that up to 80% of hormone-treated men will experience hot flashes that are associated with insomnia, fatigue, irritability, and can affect quality of life.

“The pharmacologic therapies for hot flashes in androgen-deprived men with prostate cancer have focused on hormonal and non-hormonal approaches,” explain Tomasz Beer, from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and co-authors.

However, they add: “The adverse effects of these treatments have been extensively reviewed.”

Beer and colleagues investigated the effect of acupuncture, as an alternative to pharmacologic methods, on hot flash scores and hot flash-related quality of life (including daily interference scores, sleep quality, and overall vitality) in a cohort of 22 men.

Each participant completed the Hot Flash Diary and had a score of at least 4 (where 1=mild and 4=very severe symptoms) at baseline, which the researchers aimed to reduce by 50% or more after a course of twice-weekly acupuncture for 4 weeks, followed by a once-weekly course for 6 weeks.

The overall mean hot flash score among patients was reduced to 60% of baseline score after 4 weeks of therapy, and to 52% of baseline after 8 weeks of therapy.

Specifically, 41% of patients reported a 50% reduction in hot flash score from baseline after 4 weeks of acupuncture, which increased to 55% of patients after 7 weeks, note the researchers.

The men’s mean Hot Flash Related Daily Interference scores (where a higher score indicates more interference) also improved significantly from baseline, decreasing from 35.9 to 18.4 after 4 weeks, and from 34.3 to 22.6 after 10 weeks.

Furthermore, patients who achieved a 50% reduction in hot flash score also experienced an improvement in Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index scores (where a score of 5 or more indicates significant impairment in sleep quality), which fell from 8.1 to 5.4 during the study.

No changes were seen in the overall vitality of the men, as measured by the Short Form 36-item Health Survey.

Beer and team believe the results provide evidence of a “potentially meaningful benefit” of acupuncture for treating hot flashes, and suggest additional studies of the efficacy of acupuncture in ADT-treated men that include a control group for comparison.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sarah Guy

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