In the largest, most rigorous study of its kind, acupuncture was found to significantly reduce the debilitating joint pain experienced by tens of thousands of women each year while being treated for early stage breast cancer with aromatase inhibitors (AIs).
The trial was carried out through NCORP and led by investigators from SWOG, a global clinical trials network and research base in NCORP. Tens of thousands of women each year are treated with AIs, pills that stop the production of estrogen and essentially starve hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells. Some women are advised to take these pills daily for up to 10 years. But as a side effect of this therapy, as many as 50 percent of women experience joint pain and stiffness. This affects knees, hips, hands, and wrists, and makes it difficult for women to walk, sit, climb stairs, and perform simple tasks like typing or driving.