Background: Xerostomia (dry mouth) after head/neck radiation is a common problem among cancer patients. Quality of life (QOL) is impaired, and available treatments are of little benefit. This trial determined the feasibility of conducting a sham-controlled trial of acupuncture and whether acupuncture could prevent xerostomia among head/neck patients undergoing radiotherapy. Methods: A sham controlled, feasibility trial was conducted at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai, China among patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma undergoing radiotherapy. To determine feasibility of a sham procedure, 23 patients were randomised to real acupuncture (N = 11) or to sham acupuncture (N = 12). Patients were treated three times/week during the course of radiotherapy. Subjective measures were the Xerostomia Questionnaire (XQ) and MD Anderson Symptom Inventory for Head and Neck Cancer (MDASI-HN). Objective measures were unstimulated whole salivary flow rates (UWSFR) and stimulated salivary flow rates (SSFR). Patients were followed for 1 month after radiotherapy. Results: XQ scores for acupuncture were significantly lower than sham controls starting in week 3 and lasted through the 1-month follow-up (all P's <0.001 except for week 3, which was 0.006), with clinically significant differences as follows: week 6 - RR 0.28 [95% confidence interval, 0.10, 0.79]; week 11 - RR 0.17 [95% CI, 0.03, 1.07]. Similar findings were seen for MDASI-HN scores and MDASI-Intrusion scores. Group differences for UWSFR and SSFR were not found. Conclusions: In this small pilot study, true acupuncture given concurrently with radiotherapy significantly reduced xerostomia symptoms and improved QOL when compared with sham acupuncture. Large-scale, multi-centre, randomised and placebo-controlled trials are now needed. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Meng, Z., Kay Garcia, M., Hu, C., Chiang, J., Chambers, M., Rosenthal, D. I., … Cohen, L. (2012). Sham-controlled, randomised, feasibility trial of acupuncture for prevention of radiation-induced xerostomia among patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. European Journal of Cancer, 48(11), 1692–1699. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2011.12.030