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Complementary and alternative medicine for cancer pain: an overview of systematic reviews

Bao Y, Kong X, Yang L, Lui R, Shi Z, Li W, Hua B, Hou W. Complementary and alternative medicine for cancer pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014 [Epub ahead of print].

Background and Objective. Now with more and more published systematic reviews of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) on adult cancer pain, it is necessary to use the methods of overview of systematic review to summarize available evidence, appraise the evidence level, and give suggestions to future research and practice. Methods. A comprehensive search (the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, and ISI Web of Knowledge) was conducted to identify all systematic reviews or meta-analyses of CAM on adult cancer pain. And the evidence levels were evaluated using GRADE approach. Results. 27 systematic reviews were included. Based on available evidence, we could find that psychoeducational interventions, music interventions, acupuncture plus drug therapy, Chinese herbal medicine plus cancer therapy, compound kushen injection, reflexology, lycopene, TENS, qigong, cupping, cannabis, Reiki, homeopathy (Traumeel), and creative arts therapies might have beneficial effects on adult cancer pain. No benefits were found for acupuncture (versus drug therapy or shame acupuncture), and the results were inconsistent for massage therapy, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), and Viscum album L plus cancer treatment. However, the evidence levels for these interventions were low or moderate due to high risk of bias and/or small sample size of primary studies. Conclusion. CAM may be beneficial for alleviating cancer pain, but the evidence levels were found to be low or moderate. Future large and rigor randomized controlled studies are needed to confirm the benefits of CAM on adult cancer pain.