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Acupuncture reduced sleep disturbances and hot flashes in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors

Researchers at the Indiana University in United States found that acupuncture may be a feasible treatment option for breast cancer survivors with sleep disturbances and hot flashes. Ten breast cancer survivors (mean age 53 years, with an average 6.75 years since diagnosis) with sleep disturbances and hot flashes were treated with acupuncture for 3 sessions within a 2-week period (weeks 3, 4). Patients wore a wrist actigraph during weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8 and a sternal skin conductance monitor for 24 consecutive hours during weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8. Subjective data were obtained by questionnaire at weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8. Assessments were done at baseline (weeks 1, 2), during treatment (weeks 3, 4), and after treatment (weeks 5, 8).

Results:  After the treatments, there were significant improvement in the number of minutes it took to fall asleep after treatment (from week 5 to 8), a decrease in the percentage of time awake after sleep onset from baseline to follow-up 2 (week 8), and a decrease in the number of hot flashes from baseline to follow-up 1 (week 5).

Conclusion:  Acupuncture treatment seems to be a feasible treatment option for highly motivated breast cancer survivors with sleep disturbances and hot flashes but needs to be further evaluated in a larger, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Findings may be used by clinical nurse specialists to consider recommending acupuncture to improve sleep and reduce hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.

Source:  This research was reported by Dr. Otte JL and colleagues from Indiana University, USA.
Otte JL, et al. Feasibility study of acupuncture for reducing sleep disturbances and hot flashes in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors. Clinical Nurse Specialist 2011;25:228-236.

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