Acupuncture Shows Benefit After Cancer Neck Dissection

Treatment linked to reduced pain, dysfunction, xerostomia in patients compared to usual care
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture could play a role in treating problems such as pain, dysfunction and xerostomia following neck dissection for cancer, according to research published online April 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

David G. Pfister, M.D., of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 58 patients who'd undergone neck dissection for cancer and had pain or dysfunction thought to be associated with it. Patients were randomized to receive usual care for four weeks, such as physical therapy or anti-inflammatory drugs, or four weekly sessions of acupuncture.

The researchers found that the acupuncture group had greater improvements on Constant-Murley scores, which measure pain, function, and activities of daily living (adjusted difference between groups, 11.2). Acupuncture was also associated with more improvement in reported xerostomia, as measured on the Xerostomia Inventory (adjusted difference, −5.8).

"In summary, significant reductions in pain, dysfunction, and xerostomia were observed in study patients receiving acupuncture versus usual care. Acupuncture treatment was well tolerated. Although further study is needed, these data support the potential role of acupuncture in addressing post-neck dissection pain and dysfunction, as well as xerostomia," the authors conclude.

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