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The role of acupoint stimulation as an adjunct therapy for lung cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Hai-Yong Chen1, Shi-Guang Li2, William CS Cho3* and Zhang-Jin Zhang1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Chinese Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, G/F, 10 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China

2 Department of Oncology & Hematology, Shenzhen Hospital of TCM, Guangdong Province, China

3 Department of Clinical Oncology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 30 Gascoigne Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:362  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-362

Published: 17 December 2013



Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in cancer patients. Clinical studies showed that a variety of acupoint stimulations have been extensively used for lung cancer patients, including needle insertion, injection with herbal extraction, plaster application, and moxibustion. However, the role of acupoint stimulation in lung cancer treatment was not fully reviewed.


In the present study, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on the role of acupoint stimulation in lung cancer treatment by electronic and manual searching in seven databases, including Ovid (Ovid MEDLINE, AMED, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE), EBSCOhost research databases (Academic Search premier, MEDLINE, CIHAHL Plus), PreQuest (British Nursing Index, ProQuest Medical Library, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I, PsycINFO), and ISI web of knowledge (Web of Science, BIOSIS Citation Index, Biological Abstracts, Chinese Science Citation Database), CNKI, Wanfang Data, and CQVIP.


Our study showed that acupoint stimulation has strong immunomodulatory effect for lung cancer patients as demonstrated by the significant increase of IL-2, T cell subtypes (CD3+ and CD4+, but not CD8+ cells), and natural killer cells. Further analysis revealed that acupoint stimulation remarkably alleviates the conventional therapy-induced bone marrow suppression (hemoglobin, platelet, and WBC reduction) in lung cancer patients, as well as decreases nausea and vomiting. The pooled studies also showed that acupoint stimulation can improve Karnofsky performance status, immediate tumor response, quality of life (EORCT-QLQ-C30), and pain control of cancer patients.


Acupoint stimulation is found to be effective in lung cancer treatment, further confirmatory evaluation via large scale randomized trials is warranted.

Acupuncture; Chinese medicine; Lung cancer; Systematic review; Meta-analysis