The following is a summary of “Integrative Medicine for Pain Management in Oncology: Society for Integrative Oncology–ASCO Guideline,” published in the December 2022 issue of Oncology by Mao, et al.


For a study, researchers sought to give practicing physicians and other healthcare professionals evidence-based advice on integrative pain management strategies for cancer patients.

A panel of experts from the fields of social sciences, mind-body medicine, nursing, and patient advocacy was assembled by the Society for Integrative Oncology and ASCO. They represented integrative oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, palliative oncology, and palliative care. Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials from 1990 to 2021 were included in the literature search. Pain severity, symptom alleviation, and unfortunate occurrences were among the outcomes of interest. Expert panel members created recommendations for guidelines based on this evidence and an unofficial consensus.

About 227 pertinent papers were found in the literature search that helped to support the evidence foundation for this recommendation.

Acupuncture should be suggested to adult patients who experience joint discomfort with aromatase inhibitors. For general cancer discomfort or musculoskeletal pain, acupuncture, reflexology, or acupressure may be advised. Patients who feel discomfort during procedures may benefit from hypnosis. Massage may be suggested to patients in pain during palliative or hospice care. The recommendations had a moderate level of strength and were based on evidence of medium quality, with benefits outweighing risks. Other mind-body therapies or natural painkillers have either weak or inconclusive quality evidence. To offer recommendations for pediatric patients, there was insufficient or insufficiently conclusive evidence. More study is required to fully understand the function of integrative medicine treatments in treating cancer patients.

Reference: ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/JCO.22.01357