Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate acupuncture use among breast cancer survivors, including perceived symptom improvements and referral patterns. Methods: Breast cancer survivors who had used acupuncture for cancer- or treatment-related symptoms were identified using an ongoing prospective Mayo Clinic Breast Disease Registry (MCBDR). Additionally, Mayo Clinic electronic health records (MCEHR) were queried to identify eligible participants. All received a mailed consent form and survey including acupuncture-related questions about acupuncture referrals, delivery, and costs. Respondents were also asked to recall symptom severity before and after acupuncture treatment and time to benefit on Likert scales. Results: Acupuncture use was reported among 415 participants (12.3%) of the MCBDR. Among MCBDR and MCEHR eligible participants, 241 women returned surveys. A total of 193 (82.1%) participants reported a symptomatic benefit from acupuncture, and 57 (24.1% of participants) reported a “substantial benefit” or “totally resolved my symptoms” (corresponding to 4 and 5 on the 5-point Likert scale). The mean symptom severity decreased by at least 1 point of the 5-point scale for each symptom; the percentage of patients who reported an improvement in symptoms ranged from 56% (lymphedema) to 79% (headache). The majority of patients reported time to benefit as “immediate” (34%) or “after a few treatments” (40.4%). Over half of the participants self-referred for treatment; 24.1% were referred by their oncologist. Acupuncture delivery was more frequent in private offices (61.0%) than in hospital or medical settings (42.3%). Twelve participants (5.1%) reported negative side effects, such as discomfort. Conclusions: Acupuncture is commonly utilized by patients for a variety of breast cancer–related symptoms. However, patients frequently self-refer for acupuncture treatments, and most acupuncture care is completed at private offices, rather than medical clinic or hospital settings.
- Breast cancer
- Complementary and alternative medicine
ASJC Scopus subject areas