Article Text


Evaluation of acupuncture in the management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  1. Graeme K Donald1,
  2. Irene Tobin1,
  3. Jacqui Stringer1
  1. 1Complementary Therapy Service, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Graeme K Donald, Complementary Therapy Service, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Wilmslow Road, Manchester M20 4BX, UK; graeme.donald{at}


Aim To clinically evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture when used in the management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (PN).

Background During cancer treatment, certain chemotherapies can cause varying degrees of PN. Patients' quality of life can be seriously impaired through loss of sensation, pain or mobility problems. Conventional medications routinely used to manage neuropathic symptoms have poor side-effect profiles and there is little or no evidence justifying their use to treat chemotherapy-related neurotoxicities. There are studies suggesting that acupuncture may be an effective therapy in treating PN across a number of different aetiologies.

Design A retrospective service evaluation.

Method Patients (n=18) were referred for acupuncture by the medical staff and/ornurse specialists or they self-referred for treatment. A course of six weekly acupuncture sessions was offered to them, and their details were recorded on an evaluation form prior to session one. Points were selected by acupuncturists, based on patient presentation, and needles remained in situ for 30–45 min. Treatments took place in outpatient clinics, chemotherapy day case ward or a drop-in clinic based in a physiotherapy gym. The evaluation form was completed at the end of session 6 by a therapist who had not been involved in patient care.

Results 82% (n=14) of patients reported an improvement in symptoms following their course of acupuncture; one patient with advanced disease died during the 6 weeks. Some patients derived additional benefits from the treatment including a reduction in analgesic use and improved sleeping patterns. The most common acupoints used were SP6 (n=18), ST36 (n=18) and LV3 (n=14).

Conclusion Although these results are encouraging, they are uncontrolled. They suggest that acupuncture could be an option for these patients and controlled trials using validated patient-reported outcome measures are justified.

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was not needed to complete this study. The research and practice of complementary therapies at the host institution is endorsed by the Trust's clinical and research governance committees.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.