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Acupuncture to Reduce Symptoms of Advanced Colorectal Cancer

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Identifier:
First received: April 19, 2002
Last updated: January 4, 2007
Last verified: January 2007

This study investigates the effect of acupuncture in reducing symptom distress in adults with advanced colon cancer.

Condition Intervention Phase
Colorectal Neoplasms
Procedure: Acupuncture
Phase 1

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: Single Blind
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: An Intervention to Improve End-of-Life Symptom Distress

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):

Estimated Enrollment: 105
Study Start Date: June 2002
Estimated Study Completion Date: August 2006
Detailed Description:

End-stage colorectal cancer is associated with physical and psychological symptoms that negatively affect patients' quality of life (QOL). Nonpharmacological interventions that promote relaxation and reduce psychological distress are associated with a reduction of pain suggesting that psychological distress and anxiety may mediate the relationship between symptom severity and QOL. Pilot data from a sample of 28 end-stage cancer patients supports the mediational role of psychological distress in the symptom severity - QOL relationship. The results indicated that the mere presence or absence of a physical symptom is not related to patient QOL. Rather, greater symptom severity was associated with significantly poorer QOL, and when the effects of psychological distress were controlled, the relationships between symptom severity and QOL were no longer significant. The proposed research focuses on psychological distress as an underlying mechanism of physical symptom severity among EOL cancer patients and a non-traditional approach (acupuncture) to relieving distress and symptom severity. Acupuncture has been used successfully with end-of-life populations (EOL) to reduce pain and shortness of breath [4]. Patients with psychological distress report the greatest benefit from acupuncture. Rather than using acupuncture to treat pain and discomfort, the proposed research will evaluate acupuncture that targets acupoints associated with anxiety and emotional well-being. One hundred seventy patients with metastatic colorectal cancer will be recruited for the study through the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

Participating patients will be randomized into one of three conditions: 1) a "true" acupuncture condition, 2) a "sham" acupuncture condition, and 3) a usual care control group. Assessment procedures will gather demographic, QOL, physical and psychological symptomatology, medication use, and salivary cortisol data. Randomization will occur after baseline assessment, and participants randomized to one of the two intervention conditions will receive acupuncture treatments three times a week for four weeks. Follow-up assessments will occur weekly for four weeks following the intervention. The proposed study will 1) test the efficacy of an acupuncture intervention in reducing psychological distress and physical symptom severity and 2) examine acupuncture's role in regulating stress responses associated with hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) activity. Findings from this study will 1) promote our understanding of psychological distress as a mechanism of physical symptom distress, and 2) promote the integration of Eastern healing philosophies (acupuncture) with the Western medical model (stress-related HPA activation).


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion criteria:

  • Advanced colon cancer that has not responded to two rounds of chemotherapy
  • Speak, read, write English
  • Live within a 50 mile radius of Pittsburgh, PA
  • Not taking any steroid medication
  • A platelet count of 75,000 or greater
  • Never had acupuncture before

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Allergy to stainless steal
  • Implanted pacemaker
  • Current skin infection
  • Needle phobia
  • Metastatic disease to the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord)
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00034034

United States, Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Cancer Institute
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, 15213
Sponsors and Collaborators
Principal Investigator: Ellen Redinbaugh, PhD University of Pittsburgh
  More Information

No publications provided Identifier: NCT00034034     History of Changes
Obsolete Identifiers: NCT00060073
Other Study ID Numbers: R01 AT001028-01
Study First Received: April 19, 2002
Last Updated: January 4, 2007
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):
Advanced colorectal cancer
acupressure /acupuncture
colorectal neoplasm
human therapy evaluation
neoplasm /cancer palliative treatment
quality of life
terminal patient care
hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis
psychological aspect of cancer
stress management
alternative medicine
behavioral /social science research tag
human subject
patient oriented research

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Colorectal Neoplasms
Colonic Diseases
Digestive System Diseases
Digestive System Neoplasms
Gastrointestinal Diseases
Gastrointestinal Neoplasms
Intestinal Diseases
Intestinal Neoplasms
Neoplasms by Site
Rectal Diseases processed this record on November 20, 2014