Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 453–464 | Cite as

Randomized sham-controlled pilot trial of weekly electro-acupuncture for the prevention of taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy in women with early stage breast cancer

  • Heather GreenleeEmail author
  • Katherine D. Crew
  • Jillian Capodice
  • Danielle Awad
  • Donna Buono
  • Zaixing Shi
  • Anne Jeffres
  • Sharon Wyse
  • Wendy Whitman
  • Meghna S. Trivedi
  • Kevin Kalinsky
  • Dawn L. Hershman
Clinical trial


To investigate the effect of electro-acupuncture (EA) as a non-pharmacological intervention to prevent or reduce chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy of taxane. Women with stage I-III breast cancer scheduled to receive taxane therapy were randomized to receive a standardized protocol of 12 true or sham EA (SEA) weekly treatments concurrent with taxane treatment. Subjects completed the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form (BPI-SF), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Taxane neurotoxicity subscale (FACT-NTX), and other assessments at baseline and weeks 6, 12, and 16. A total of 180 subjects were screened, 63 enrolled and 48 completed week 16 assessments. Mean age was 50 with 25 % white, 25 % black, and 43 % Hispanic; 52 % had no prior chemotherapy. At week 12, both groups reported an increase in mean BPI-SF worst pain score, but no mean differences were found between groups (SEA 2.8 vs. EA 2.6, P = .86). By week 16, the SEA group returned to baseline, while the EA group continued to worsen (SEA 1.7 vs. EA 3.4, P = .03). The increase in BPI-SF worst pain score was 1.62 points higher in the EA group than in the SEA group at week 16 (P = .04). In a randomized, sham-controlled trial of EA for prevention of taxane-induced CIPN, there were no differences in pain or neuropathy between groups at week 12. Of concern, subjects on EA had a slower recovery than SEA subjects. Future studies should focus on EA for treatment as opposed to prevention of CIPN.


Acupuncture Electro-acupuncture Breast cancer Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy Taxane 


Research Support

Breast Cancer Research Foundation (to DLH), National Cancer Institute NCI K23CA141052 (to HG).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

The experiments performed in this study comply with all relevant laws in the United States. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10549_2016_3759_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1035 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Greenlee
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    Email author
  • Katherine D. Crew
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jillian Capodice
    • 4
  • Danielle Awad
    • 2
    • 3
  • Donna Buono
    • 1
  • Zaixing Shi
    • 1
  • Anne Jeffres
    • 2
  • Sharon Wyse
    • 2
  • Wendy Whitman
    • 2
  • Meghna S. Trivedi
    • 3
  • Kevin Kalinsky
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dawn L. Hershman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer CenterColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Mount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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