Posted on March 8th, 2009 by
According to the results of a study presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, acupuncture is more effective than usual care in reducing pain and dysfunction following neck dissection (surgical removal of lymph nodes on side of neck where cancer has migrated) for head and neck cancer.
Head and neck cancers include cancers of the oral cavity, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, and larynx. Most head and neck cancers involve squamous cells, which are cells that line the mouth, throat, and other structures.
Depending on the location and stage of the cancer, treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these approaches. Neck dissection refers to the surgical removal of lymph nodes and other tissue from the neck, and may be performed to treat cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.
To evaluate the ability of acupuncture to reduce pain and dysfunction following a neck dissection, researchers conducted a study among 70 patients who had had a neck dissection at least three months previously, and who were experiencing pain and/or dysfunction.
Patients were assigned to receive either weekly acupuncture or usual care. Usual care involved treatments such as pain medications and physical therapy.
Although these results will need to be confirmed in additional studies, they suggest that acupuncture may be useful in managing pain and dysfunction in patients with head and neck cancer.
Reference: Pfister D, Vickers A, Deng G et al. Acupuncture for pain and dysfunction after neck dissection: preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial. Proceedings from the 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Chicago, IL. 2008. Abstract #6016.
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