Acupuncture, Acupressure May Help Alleviate Pain for Patients Undergoing Surgery for Gynecologic Cancer

Patients who received the interventions reported improved anxiety and pain levels.

Results from a new study published in Cancer suggest that preoperative acupressure may help reduce anxiety for patients undergoing surgery for ovarian and endometrial cancers. Additionally, perioperative acupuncture may reduce severe pain.

In the randomized, controlled study, investigators recruited 99 patients with gynecologic cancers and randomly assigned them to 3 groups. The 45 patients in group A received acupressure-related touch and relaxation treatments that began within 3 hours prior to surgery and continued until the patients began undergoing general anesthesia. They then received perioperative acupuncture therapy involving points known to be effective for reducing pain. Group B, with 25 patients, received preoperative acupressure only, while the 29 patients in group C received standard care.

Both before and after surgery, all participants were asked to complete questionnaires that scored the quality of their recovery and included questions about pain, anxiety, and other quality-of-life parameters.

According to the study results, the postoperative scores were higher among the patients in groups A and B than the scores among patients in group C, which suggests better recovery. Group A scores related to severe pain were significantly higher than group C scores, and both intervention groups had higher scores than the control group in terms of scores related to anxiety and depression.

Based on these findings, the authors concluded that preoperative integrative acupuncture and acupressure could help alleviate pain and anxiety.

“The inclusion of preoperative integrative medical touch and relaxation therapies for anxiety, along with intraoperative acupuncture for pain and other quality of life–related concerns, should be considered for patients undergoing gynecological oncology surgery,” said lead co-author Eran Ben-Arye, MD, in a press release. “Training in such ‘integrative oncology’ is needed for complementary medicine providers, acupuncturists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and operating room nurses—who need to work together and communicate with integrative oncology practitioners in the complex operating room setting.”

In an accompanying editorial, Ana Maria Lopez, MD, MPH, MACP, FRCP, chief of cancer services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, noted that integrative oncology may be gaining acceptance as a clinical field. Although larger studies are necessary to confirm this study’s results, the data add to a growing body of literature in support of reimbursement for integrative oncology interventions such as acupuncture.

REFERENCE

Acupuncture and Acupressure May Help Alleviate Pain and Anxiety for Patients Undergoing Surgery for Gynecologic Cancer. News release. American Society of Clinical Oncology; January 18, 2023. Accessed January 20, 2023. https://ascopost.com/news/january-2023/acupuncture-and-acupressure-may-help-alleviate-pain-and-anxiety-for-patients-undergoing-surgery-for-gynecologic-cancer/#:~:text=Subscribe-,Acupuncture%20and%20Acupressure%20May%20Help%20Alleviate%20Pain%20and%20Anxiety,Undergoing%20Surgery%20for%20Gynecologic%20Cancer&text=According%20to%20a%20new%20study,and%20endometrial%20cancers%20reduce%20anxiety

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