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Acupuncture Reduces Joint Pain in Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Aromatase Inhibitors

Posted Feb 01 2010 12:00am
Aromatase inhibitors are an effective and popular choice of breast cancer therapy for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.  However, like most breast cancer treatments, aromatase inhibitors are associated with some unwanted side effects.  One such side effect for aromatase inhibitors is a reported increase in joint discomfort, which can sometimes lead to breast cancer patients skipping treatments.

A new breast cancer research study examined the use of acupuncture for the relief of joint discomfort experienced by breast cancer patients being treated with aromatase inhibitors.  In this study, the researchers assigned breast cancer patients to receive either true acupuncture or sham acupuncture twice weekly for six weeks.  Using multiple questionnaires, the researchers assessed joint discomfort at the beginning of the study and after 3 and 6 weeks.  The researchers discovered that after 6 weeks:
  • Overall pain scores were lower for breast cancer patients receiving true acupuncture.
  • Scores for pain severity were substantially lower in breast cancer patients receiving true acupuncture compared to patients receiving sham acupuncture.
  • Breast cancer patients receiving true acupuncture experienced less pain-related interference.
This is good news for breast cancer patients being treated with aromatase inhibitors.  It is important that breast cancer treatments are followed through to completion, but for many individuals the side effects of treatment often cause them to skip treatments or stop them entirely.  Methods to relieve or minimize the treatment side effects are an important part of ensuring that treatments regimens are completed.  Acupuncture appears to be a promising method for reducing joint discomfort and has been previously shown to reduce hot flashes in breast cancer patients as well.

To find out more about what you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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