The treatment and relief of cancer pain represents a challenge to healthcare professionals. Up to 70% of patients with advanced stage cancer suffer from pain for which they receive inadequate pain relief and this in turn leads to impaired physical and psychological wellbeing, resulting in a poorer quality of life . Pain experienced by patients with cancer may be due to pre-existing pathologies, progression of the disease, tumour growth, bone metastases or the treatment of cancer itself. Strong opioids are commonly used to treat cancer-related pain but they may cause undesirable side-effects such as sedation, constipation and nausea which further reduces the quality of life . Consequently, healthcare professionals and patients have sought nonpharmacological treatments to use on their own or in combination with drug therapies to alleviate cancer-related pain.
Western medical acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body (acupuncture points) to stimulate nerves in skin and underlying tissue using a conventional medical diagnostic approach and a course of treatment consisting of up to ten sessions each lasting 20–60 min . In the UK the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends a course of up to ten sessions of acupuncture for the prophylactic treatment of chronic tension-type headache and migraine with or without aura  but does not recommend acupuncture for painful conditions such as osteoarthritis, low back pain or stable angina.
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