Acupuncture from the perspective of evidence-based medicine – options of clinical use based on National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines

Authors: J. Halámková 1;  R. Dymáčková 2;  D. Adámková Krákorová 1
Authors‘ workplace: Klinika komplexní onkologické péče LF MU a MOÚ Brno 1;  Klinika radiační onkologie LF MU a MOÚ Brno 2
Published in: Klin Onkol 2022; 35(2): 94-99
Category: Review
doi: 10.48095/ccko202294


Background: Acupuncture is one of the oldest therapeutic methods. The traditional view of acupuncture is represented by influencing energy pathways through stimulation of specific points. The original meridian theory, which works with the assumption of normalization of the flowing energy Qi in the organism is, with increasing evidence, supplemented with information about the bio­logical impact of the use of acupuncture from the perspective of Western medicine. Specific stimulation of particular points on the body leads to the activation of hypothalamus and pituitary gland through neurotransmitters, resulting in a wide range of systemic effects. Stimulation of nerves in the muscle, which then trans­mits a signal to the spinal cord, midbrain, and hypothalamic-pituitary system, releases neurotransmitters, endogenous opioid peptides, or hormones. Stimulation of acupuncture points changes the levels of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-1-beta, IL-6, IL-17, and TNF-alpha. Currently, according to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, the following symptoms are indicated for acupuncture treatment: pain including neuropathic pain, arthralgia, and myalgia, especially in the aromatase inhibitors therapy, nausea, and vomiting, fatigue, vasomotor symptoms in women and vasomotor symptoms in men caused by androgen deprivation therapy. Acupuncture seems to be an effective and safe treatment method for many of the cancer symptoms or the side effects of cancer treatment, but, like any other treatment method, it has its indications and contraindications. Purpose: This work aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the use of acupuncture in defined indications, according to current international guidelines. Thus, the therapeutic possibilities of symptomatic treatment of cancer and therapy of adverse events of oncological treatment can be extended.


Pain – Fatigue – Myalgia – Arthralgia – Acupuncture – Vomiting – guidelines – vasomotor symptoms


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