Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering (NY, USA) have demonstrated that 8 weeks of acupuncture or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) decreases the severity of insomnia in cancer patients.
Recently highlighted during the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) press cast, the study potentially offers a natural treatment for insomnia in cancer survivors.
“Insomnia has deleterious effects and occurs in up to 60% of cancer survivors,” commented Jun Mao (Memorial Sloan Kettering). “The results of this trial found that both acupuncture and CBT-I produced beneficial and durable meaningful results. People with cancer and oncology clinicians can now use these findings to help inform their choice of insomnia treatment.”
The study investigated acupuncture versus CBT-I in 160 post-treatment cancer survivors who had been clinically diagnosed with insomnia disorder. The patients, seen over an 8-week period, were on average 61 years old and six years posttreatment.
Before and after the treatment period, patients reported the severity of their insomnia on a 28-point index. Overall, CBT-I reduced insomnia by 11 points (from 19 to 8 on the scale), whereas acupuncture decreased it by 8 points (18 to 10).
Patients with mild insomnia were significantly more likely to respond to CBT-I than acupuncture; however, moderate to severe insomnia patients had similar responses to both. Both groups had few mild adverse events, an improvement in quality of life and maintained improvements for up to 20 weeks.
“We are encouraged by the results of this study. CBT-I was overall more effective and a clear winner for people with mild insomnia. Acupuncture can be a reasonably good choice for people with moderate to severe insomnia,” concluded Mao. “We hope to continue our studies to find out how best to personalize treatment to improve sleep for people with cancer and survivors.”