Acupuncture for treating hot flashes in breast cancer patients: an updated meta-analysis



The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture for treatment of hot flash in women with breast cancer.


The aspects considered in this study included searching for 12 data bases until April 2015 and consulting reference lists of reviews and related articles. Additional features studied comprised all articles on human patients with breast cancer treated with needle acupuncture with or without electrical stimulation for the treatment of hot flashes. The methodological quality was assessed using the modified Jadad score.


The searches identified 12 relevant articles for inclusion. The meta-analysis without any subgroup or moderator failed to show favorable effects of acupuncture on reducing the frequency of hot flashes after intervention (n = 680, SMD = − 0.478, 95 % CI −0.397 to 0.241, P = 0.632) but exhibited marked heterogeneity of the results (Q value = 83.200, P = 0.000, I^2 = 83.17, τ^2 = 0.310).


The meta-analysis used had contradictory results and yielded no convincing evidence to suggest that acupuncture was an effective treatment of hot flash in patients with breast cancer. Multi-central studies including large sample size are required to investigate the efficiency of acupuncture for treating hot flash in patients with breast cancer.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    Rada G, Capurro D, Pantoja T, Corbalán J, Moreno G, Letelier LM, et al (2010) Non-hormonal interventions for hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer. The Cochrane Library

  2. 2.

    Bachmann GA (1999) Vasomotor flushes in menopausal women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 999 180:312–3S6

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Antoine C, Vandromme J, Fastrez M, Carly B, Liebens F, Rozenberg S (2008) A survey among breast cancer survivors: treatment of the climacteric after breast cancer. Climacteric 11:322–328

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Pandya KJ, Raubertas RF, Flynn PJ, Hynes HE, Rosenbluth RJ, Kirshner JJ, Pierce HI, Dragalin V, Gary R (2000) Oral clonidine in postmenopausal patients with breast cancer experiencing tamoxifen-induced hot flashes: a University of Rochester Cancer Center Community Clinical Oncology Program study. Ann Intern Med 132:788–793

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Daley A, MacArthur C, McManus R, Stokes-Lampard H, Wilson S, Roalfe A (2006) Factors associated with the use of complementary medicine and non-pharmacological interventions in symptomatic menopausal women. Climacteric 9:336–346

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kessel B, Kronenberg F (2004) The role of complementary and alternative medicine in management of menopausal symptoms. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 33:717–739

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Kronenberg F, Fugh-Berman A (2002) Complementary and alternative medicine for menopausal symptoms: a review of randomized, controlled trials. Ann Intern Med 137:805–813

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Newton KM, Buist DS, Keenan NL, Anderson LA, LaCroix AZ (2002) Use of alternative therapies for menopause symptoms: results of a population-based survey. Obstet Gynecol 100:18–25

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Lee MS, Kim K-H, Choi S-M, Ernst E (2009) Acupuncture for treating hot flashes in breast cancer patients: a systematic review. Breast Cancer Res Treat 115:497–503

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Jadad AR, Moore RA, Carroll D, Jenkinson C, Reynolds DJM, Gavaghan DJ, et al. (1996) Assessing the quality of reports of randomized clinical trials: is blinding necessary? Control Clin Trials 17:1–12

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    White A, Ernst E (1999) A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for neck pain. Rheumatology 38:143–147

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Bao T, Cai L, Snyder C, Betts K, Tarpinian K, Gould J, et al. (2014) Patient-reported outcomes in women with breast cancer enrolled in a dual-center, double-blind, randomized controlled trial assessing the effect of acupuncture in reducing aromatase inhibitor-induced musculoskeletal symptoms. Cancer 120:381–389

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Zaborowska E, Brynhildsen J, Damberg S, Fredriksson M, Lindh-Åstrand L, Nedstrand E, et al. (2007) Effects of acupuncture, applied relaxation, estrogens and placebo on hot flushes in postmenopausal women: an analysis of two prospective, parallel, randomized studies. Climacteric 10:38–45

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Frisk J, Källström A-C, Wall N, Fredrikson M, Hammar M (2012) Acupuncture improves health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) and sleep in women with breast cancer and hot flushes. Support Care Cancer 20:715–724

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Frisk J, Carlhäll S, Källström A-C, Lindh-Åstrand L, Malmström A, Hammar M (2008) Long-term follow-up of acupuncture and hormone therapy on hot flushes in women with breast cancer: a prospective, randomized, controlled multicenter trial. Climacteric 11:166–174

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Hozo SP, Djulbegovic B, Hozo I (2005) Estimating the mean and variance from the median, range, and the size of a sample. BMC 5:13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Nedstrand E, Wyon Y, Hammar M, Wijma K (2006) Psychological well-being improves in women with breast cancer after treatment with applied relaxation or electro-acupuncturefor vasomotor symptom. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 27:193–199

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Liljegren A, Gunnarsson P, Landgren B-M, Robéus N, Johansson H, Rotstein S (2012) Reducing vasomotor symptoms with acupuncture in breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant tamoxifen: a randomized controlled trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat 135:791–798

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Deng G, Vickers AJ, Yeung KS, D'Andrea GM, Xiao H, Heerdt AS, et al. (2007) Randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients. J Clin Oncol 25:5584–5590

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Walker EM, Rodriguez AI, Kohn B, Ball RM, Pegg J, Pocock JR, et al. (2010) Acupuncture versus venlafaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor–positive breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 28:634–640

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Otte JL, Carpenter JS, Zhong X, Johnstone PA (2011) Feasibility study of acupuncture for reducing sleep disturbances and hot flashes in post-menopausal breast cancer survivors. CNS 25:228

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    de Valois BA, Young TE, Robinson N, McCourt C, Maher EJ (2010) Using traditional acupuncture for breast cancer-related hot flashes and night sweats. J Altern Complement Med 16:1047–1057

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Tukmachi E (2000) Treatment of hot flushes in breast cancer patients with acupuncture. Acupunct Med 18:22–27

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Hervik J, Mjåland O (2009) Acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients, a randomized, controlled trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat 116:311–316

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Jeong YJ, Park YS, Kwon HJ, Shin IH, Bong JG, Park SH (2013) Acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in patients with breast cancer receiving antiestrogen therapy: a pilot study in Korean women. J Altern Complement Med 19:690–696

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Bokmand S, Flyger H (2013) Acupuncture relieves menopausal discomfort in breast cancer patients: a prospective, double blinded, randomized study. Breast 22:320–323

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors thank research center for traditional medicine and history of medicine members for their valuable cooperation. They also thank those who helped us with this study.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alireza Salehi.

Ethics declarations

Financial support

This study was supported with Research Center for Traditional Medicine and History of Medicine of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Salehi, A., Marzban, M. & Zadeh, A.R. Acupuncture for treating hot flashes in breast cancer patients: an updated meta-analysis. Support Care Cancer 24, 4895–4899 (2016).

Download citation


  • Acupuncture
  • Hot flash
  • Breast cancer
  • Systematic review and meta-analysis