A trial looking at acupuncture to help fatigue in women who have had treatment for breast cancer

Cancer type:

Breast cancer




Phase 3

This trial looked at acupuncture to help women with tiredness (fatigue) following chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

Research shows that about 40 out of every 100 women (40%) successfully treated for their breast cancer have moderate to severe levels of fatigue. Sometimes it continues for years after treatment has finished. This can have a big impact on your quality of life, causing distress and affecting everyday tasks.

Acupuncture is a type of complementary therapy. It treats certain conditions with fine needles put into the skin at particular points on the body. In this trial everyone had one of the following

  • Acupuncture
  • Usual care and education in coping with fatigue (but no acupuncture)

The aim of this trial was to find out if acupuncture could help with fatigue after treatment for breast cancer.

Summary of results

The researchers found that acupuncture could help women with fatigue after breast cancer treatment.

This was a phase 3 trial. It recruited 302 women. It was a randomised trial. The women were put into 1 of 2 treatment groups. Neither they nor their doctor could choose which group they were in.

In the 2 groups were

  • 227 women who had acupuncture once a week for 6 weeks
  • 75 women who had usual care plus information on coping with fatigue

The women were asked to fill in 3 questionnaires when they were put into their groups, and again 6 weeks later. The questions asked how tired they felt and how they were feeling generally.

246 of the women completed the questionnaire at 6 weeks. Of these

  • 181 had acupuncture
  • 65 had usual care

They compared the answers in the questionnaires. They found that the women who had acupuncture reported feeling less fatigued than those who had usual care.

The trial team concluded that acupuncture could help women with fatigue after treatment for breast cancer.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Alexander Molassiotis

Supported by

Breakthrough Breast Cancer
King's College London
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
University of Manchester

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 1084

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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