Conference highlights advances in evidence-based integrative therapies for cancer

Today the Society for Integrative Oncology highlighted top research findings presented at the Eighth International Conference this week in Cleveland, Ohio. More than 80 abstracts will be presented at the annual meeting, which will be keynoted by National Institutes of Health Director, Francis Collins, MD, PhD.

The theme of this year's meeting is "Innovating Integrative Oncology: New Science, New Solutions; 'The Focus is the Patient.'"

The following news tips are based on abstracts or posters presented at the annual conference.

A Randomized, Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial of Acustimulation of K1 Acupoint at Preventing Chemotherapy-induced Nausea and Vomiting due to Treatment using Cisplatin or Oxaliplatin for Liver Cancer

The trial examined whether electro-stimulation at Yongquan acupoint (K1) acupoint can prevent cisplatin- or oxaliplatin-induced nausea and vomiting. Electro-stimulation of K1 did not result in initial prevention of nausea and vomiting induced by CDDP or OXA when combined with antiemetics. However, electro-stimulation of K1 combined with antimetics was more effective than antimetics and placebo electro-stimulation in reducing incidence of vomiting once it had developed and improved performance status of patients after undergoing platinum-based chemotherapy via transcatheter arterial infusion.

Just on Paper?: The Experience of Integrative Oncology

This study explored the process of integrating conventional cancer care with complementary therapies from the perspective of individuals living with cancer. The findings showed that barriers to effective communication between patients, conventional health professionals, and complementary practitioners prevent open dialogue from occurring about integrative care. Patients are left with the responsibility as well as the physical and emotional burden of finding information, managing conflicting advice, making treatment decisions, and evaluating the outcomes of care. Until these barriers are addressed through professional processes of communication, education, and health policy, integrative oncology will remain a concept "just on paper" and not a reality within cancer care settings.

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Training for Cancer Patients Undergoing Stem Cell Transplant

This multi-site randomized controlled trial evaluated the longitudinal and short-term effects of mindfulness meditation training in cancer patients hospitalized for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. While intent-to-treat analysis did not reveal long-term group differences, significant immediate improvements in symptoms and mood were identified in the mindfulness group and not in the two control groups. Furthermore, exploratory analyses revealed beneficial effects of mindfulness training (dose/practice effects) on psychological functioning.

Phase II Study of Glucosamine with Chondroitin on Joint Symptoms Induced by Aromatase Inhibitors in Breast Cancer Patients

This single-arm, open label, Phase II study examined whether glucosamine plus chondroitin improves aromatase inhibitors(AI)-induced arthralgias in women with early stage breast cancer. In this non-controlled study, glucosamine and chondroitin conferred mild, but not strong, improvement in AI-induced arthralgias among postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer.

Multiple Myeloma Precursor Disease and Curcumin: a Randomized, Double-blind Placebo-controlled Cross-over 4g study and an Open-label 8g Extension Study

This randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over 4g study and an open-label 8g extension study assessed the effect of curcumin on free light chain response and bone turnover in monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and Smoldering Multiple Myeloma (SMM) patients. The data suggest that curcumin may stabilize disease activity or potentially slow the disease process in MGUS and SMM patients.

Happiness is Associated with Improved Biological Outcomes in Patients with Stage IV Renal Cell Carcinoma

The study examined whether happiness was associated with clinically relevant biological markers in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The findings suggest happiness was the only psychosocial measure associated with the biological indices after controlling for disease status. This suggests that measures of negative and positive affect are distinct constructs and should not be thought of on a continuum. These findings further suggest that there may be certain psychological characteristics that may work in favor of minimizing disease and that research focusing on augmenting these variables may have beneficial effects on disease outcomes. The clinical significance of the link between happiness and disease markers in cancer patients warrants further research; however, it is reasonable to conclude that happiness may be an independent predictor of health measures in chronic disease.

Treatment of Taste Alterations in Chemotherapy Patients Using the "Miracle Fruit"

This was a single institution trial to assess whether the African fruit Synsepalum dulcificum, or "Miracle Fruit" (MF) improves dysgeusia, alterations of taste. Patients reported a 30 percent improvement in taste; in addition, 40 percent believed the MF was helpful. When considering at least stabilization of taste, the best response rate was 54 percent. There was no significant change in weight during the study. In the preliminary analysis, the response to the MF fruit appears encouraging.

Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo Controlled Clinical Study of Chinese Herbal Formula JDXZO Cream to Reduce Hand-Foot Syndrome Associated with Capecitabine Chemotherapy

This randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the safety and efficacy of JDXZO, advanced Chinese herbal extract cream in treating Hand-Foot Syndrome (HFS.) JDXZO was superior to placebo in improving HFS. Improvement of skin lesion toxicity mainly included relief of numbness, dermatitis, desquamation and ulceration pain on the palms or soles.

Safety of Acupuncture for Upper Extremity Lymphedema in Breast Cancer Patients: Lessons from two major Medical Centers

The purpose of this study is to report the combined incidence of adverse effects resulting from acupuncture treatments in breast cancer patients with post-operative lymphedema at two major integrative medicine centers. No serious adverse events or increased incidence of infection were documented following over 1,000 acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture appears safe in this patient population.

Tibetan Sound Meditation Improves Cognitive Dysfunction, Mental Health, and Spirituality in Women with Breast Cancer

This study examined the effects of a Tibetan Sound Meditation (TSM) program on cognitive dysfunction and quality of life in 40 breast cancer patients who reported cognitive impairment. There were significant or marginally significant changes in objective behavioral measures of cognitive function suggesting improvements in working memory and processing speed/executive function, self-report measures of cognitive function, and measures of mental health, sleep quality, and spirituality. Results indicate that the TSM program may be associated with short-term improvements in cognitive function, mental health, and spirituality.

Chronic Tumor-associated Fatigue in Stage I to III Breast Cancer Survivors is Equally Reduced by a Multimodal Mind-body Intervention or a Walking Intervention Alone - a Randomized Controlled Trial

This trial evaluated the impact of a multimodal mind-body program including moderate physical activity as compared with a walking intervention alone on chronic fatigue symptoms of women with stage I to III A breast cancer. The study found that since both interventions reduced fatigue symptoms and enhanced quality of life to a similar extent, no verifiable add-on effect of the mind-body program regarding fatigue symptoms was observed. Considering the higher costs and additional expenditure related to the multimodal mind-body program, home-based walking training is recommended in the management of chronic cancer-related fatigue.

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