Acupressure & Oncology Studies

Studies among adults demonstrate that mode (needles, pressure, or laser) of acupoint stimulation may not matter for effectiveness. In a meta-analysis involving 29 trials and 17,922 patients being treated for pain, the effectiveness of acupuncture was not different based on acupuncture style (some TCM influence vs. strict Western approach), patient-practitioner interaction, or acupuncturist experience. Use of more points, and more sessions a appeared to increase the effectiveness of acupuncture on pain.

Acupuncture is widely offered in adult cancer treatment centers and described on the National Cancer Institute website. It is provided in many chronic pain clinics nationally. Pediatric practices are also interested in AcuS, but its use is less widespread, which may be due, in part, to gaps in evidence. Children’s Oncology Group currently includes the use of acupuncture in its supportive care guidelines and states “that acupuncture, acupressure…may be effective in children receiving antineoplastic agents” to reduce chemotherapy related nausea or vomiting. However, the strength of the Children’s Oncology Group recommendation is rated as “weak” and the quality of evidence is categorized as “very low.” Both practitioners and the public are interested in the use of acupuncture for cancer supportive care but evidence is weak and strong studies are needed.

Among CAM modalities Traditional Chinese Medicine is chosen three times more often in pediatric oncology patients compared to children with other illnesses. CAM use is seen as adjunctive and does not replace curative care.


Studies suggest that acupuncture effects the neuroendocrine system involving the central and peripheral nervous systems and can reduce inflammation all over the body. Acupressure is now being used by over 2 million people in the U.S. annually. According to data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, 38% of adults, 14% of adolescents and 11% of children had used Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in the past year. CAM use among families of children with cancer varies from 48 to 83%.



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