Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, MBA, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not acupuncture is an effective course of treatment for improving cancer-related fatigue in adult cancer patients.

DESIGN: Review of three English language primary randomized controlled studies published from 2006-2012.

DATA SOURCES: Three randomized controlled trials studying the effects of acupuncture therapy on cancer-related fatigue were found using PubMed and Cochrane databases.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Each of the three trials assessed the efficacy and clinical improvement of cancer-related fatigue after acupuncture therapy. Results were measured on the Functional Assessment of Chronic-Illness Therapy-Fatigue Subscale (FACIT-F) or the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI).

RESULTS: In a pilot, randomized, double-blind controlled trial by Balk at al, the acupuncture group showed improvement compared to the sham acupuncture group, but results were statistically insignificant due a small sample size. Both randomized controlled trials by Molassiotis et al (2006) and Molassiotis et al (2012) had clinically significant improvement in cancer-related fatigue after acupuncture therapy as compared to sham-acupressure or usual enhanced care.

CONCLUSIONS: All three randomized controlled trials demonstrated in some degree that acupuncture is an effective form of therapy to improve cancer-related fatigue.