A new study has shown that acupuncture can help reduce dry mouth for head and neck cancer patients induced by radiation treatment.
The study published on Friday in JAMA Network Open reported the randomized, placebo-controlled, Phase III trial results.
The researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Fudan University Cancer Center in China recruited 339 head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment.
The patients were divided into three groups. One group received true acupuncture (TA), another group received sham acupuncture (SA) and the third group received radiation and oral health education but no acupuncture.
The sham procedure involved a real needle at a point not indicated for dry mouth or xerostomia, real needles at sham points and placebo needles at sham points.
Patients assigned to either TA or SA received acupuncture three days a week on the same day as their radiation treatment, which lasted six to seven weeks.
One year after the end of radiation therapy, the incidence of clinically significant dry mouth was 35 percent in the TA group, 48 percent in the SA group and 55 percent in the control group, according to the study.
"With this study we can add acupuncture to the list for the prevention and treatment of xerostomia, and the guidelines for the use of acupuncture in the oncology setting should be revised to include this important chronic condition," said the study's principal investigator Lorenzo Cohen, director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.