The National Cancer Institute’s Conference on Acupuncture for Symptom Management in Oncology: State of the Science, Evidence, and Research Gaps

Publication Harvard University

Farah Z. Zia, Oluwadamilola Olaku, Ting Bao, Ann Berger, Gary Deng, Arthur Yin Fan, Mary K. Garcia, Patricia M. Herman, Ted J. Kaptchuk, Elena J. Ladas, Helene M. Langevin, Lixing Lao, Weidong Lu, Vitaly Napadow, Richard C. Niemtzow, Andrew J. Vickers, Xin Shelley Wang, Claudia M. Witt, Jun J. Mao

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2017 Nov 1;2017(52).


The Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) held a symposium on “Acupuncture for Cancer Symptom Management” on June 16 and 17, 2016. Invited speakers included 19 scientists and scholars with expertise in acupuncture and cancer research from the United States, Europe, and China. The conference reviewed the NCI’s grant funding on acupuncture, analyzed the needs of cancer patients, reviewed safety issues, and assessed both the current scientific evidence and research gaps of acupuncture in oncology care. Researchers and stakeholders presented and discussed basic mechanisms of acupuncture; clinical evidence for specific symptoms; and methodological challenges such as placebo effects, novel biostatistical methods, patient-reported outcomes, and comparative effectiveness research. This paper, resulting from the conference, summarizes both the current state of the science and clinical evidence of oncology acupuncture, identifies key scientific gaps, and makes recommendations for future research to increase understanding of both the mechanisms and effects of acupuncture for cancer symptom management.