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Comment & Response
July 29, 2021

Acupuncture for Cancer Survivors—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Integrative Medicine Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
JAMA Oncol. 2021;7(9):1400-1401. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2021.2520

In Reply We thank Vishnu K et al and Oura et al for their comments on our article on the effectiveness of electroacupuncture or auricular acupuncture vs usual care for chronic musculoskeletal pain among cancer survivors.1

Vishnu K et al pointed out that the lack of placebo control may overestimate the overall effects of acupuncture interventions. We agree and acknowledge this as a limitation in our article. Given that meta-analyses of many randomized clinical trials of acupuncture conclude that acupuncture is more effective than both placebo control as well as usual care,2 we designed a comparative effectiveness trial, where choice of usual care is often used to evaluate the overall effects of interventions.3 Our observed effects of acupuncture include both specific needling efficacy as well as non-needling-related therapeutic effects via acupuncture care delivery.4 Researchers and clinicians agree that pain is a subjective experience, and use of validated patient-reported outcomes is the criterion standard for pain therapeutic trials.5 We agree that additional exploration of biomarkers associated with acupuncture for pain is needed for the field.

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