Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a common and distressing side effect. We conducted this clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of true acupuncture vs. sham acupuncture in controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) among patients with advanced cancer.
A total of 134 participants were randomly allocated into true acupuncture (TA) (n = 68) and sham acupuncture (SA) (n = 66) groups. Participants in both groups received acupuncture session twice on the first day of chemotherapy, and once consecutively on the following 4 days. The primary outcome was using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) to assess CINV. The secondary outcome measures were the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score (ECOG), Simplified Nutritional Appetite Questionnaire (SNAQ), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS).
Compared to the SA group, the TA group didn’t show significant improvement in complete response rates of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (all P > 0.05). However, the TA group could modestly reduce the severity of nausea (from day-3 to day-21, P < 0.05) or vomiting (from day-4 to day-21, P < 0.05), which is notably superior to the control group. Besides, TA promoted the nutritional status of patients with a significantly higher score comparing to the SA group on day 14 (21.82 vs.20.12, P = 0.003) and day 21 (22.39 vs. 20.43, P = 0.001). No apparent differences were found in anxiety and depression assessment between these groups. Participants in both groups were well tolerant of acupuncture therapy. There was no adverse event occurs in our study.
Acupuncture as an adjunctive approach could alleviate the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting compared to the sham control, even though the effect of acupuncture in preventing CINV occurring is relatively modest.

© The Author(s) 2020.