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Posted by on Feb 13, 2022 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study evaluated the effects of physical therapies on improvement in psychosomatic symptoms and quality of life (QoL) in patients with breast cancer (BC) treated with aromatase inhibitors (AIs). The data showed that acupuncture can significantly reduce pain intensity and exercise training might improve QoL in these patients. 

Some background

Breast cancer (BC) is one of the most common cancers affecting women worldwide. Many of these patients have a type of tumor that grows in response to female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. These are called hormone receptor-positive (HR+). Aromatase inhibitors (AI) which reduce the production of estrogen are used to treat this type of BC in postmenopausal women.

AIs are very effective in improving survival outcomes. However, AIs are associated with musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS) including joint pain, aching or stiffness in the body, twitching of muscles, and fatigue, as well as a decrease in bone mineral density (osteoporosis) and increased fracture risk. Long-term joint pain can negatively affect patients' quality of life (QoL).

Psychosomatic factors also play an important role in pain and physical disabilities. Psychosomatic refers to real physical symptoms such as anxiety and depression that arise from or are influenced by the mind and emotions. Physical therapies like exercise, yoga, or acupuncture (inserting small needles into different body points to stimulate nerves in that area) are generally recommended to prevent and manage MSS. However, the effects of physical therapies on psychosomatic symptoms and QoL in BC patients treated with AIs are still unknown.

Methods & findings

This study analyzed 10 studies and involved 798 women with BC who received AIs treatment. 387 patients received acupuncture treatment and 411 patients received exercise training.

Pain progression and the QoL related to the patients' health were measured by patient questionnaires. The questionnaires took into consideration different elements, such as a person's strength, ability to perform daily activities, sleeping and eating, depression and anxiety, and other medical conditions (pain, discomfort).

Acupuncture showed a significant reduction in pain scores. Exercise training showed an improvement in the health-related QoL scores.

Both acupuncture and exercise training showed little or no improvement in psychosomatic scores such as anxiety, sleep disturbance, and fatigue.

The bottom line

This study concluded that acupuncture can significantly reduce pain intensity and exercise training might improve QoL in BC patients treated with AIs. However, acupuncture or exercise training could not significantly improve some psychosomatic symptoms (such as anxiety, sleep disturbance, and fatigue).

The fine print

The patients in the studies analyzed knew which treatment they were receiving. This might have affected the results. Both real acupuncture and control acupuncture can improve pain scores, which means that control acupuncture may provide a therapeutic benefit.

Published By :

Frontiers in oncology

Date :

Dec 07, 2021

Original Title :

Physical Therapies for Psychosomatic Symptoms and Quality of Life Induced by Aromatase Inhibitors in Breast Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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