Table 1

Summary of demographic information of the included studies

Author/yearCountryTypeAge (years)NIndicationInterventionAssessment toolTreatment sessionsProviderEfficacyAdverse eventsEvidence level*
Miller et al 201943 USARetrospective chart review31–8968Cancer-related painTraditional acupuncture/Seirin filiform needlesEdmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS)15–40 min/ treatment, median number of treatments was 2 (range 1–13)Palliative medicine physician certified in medical acupunctureAcupuncture improved cancer-related pain and other symptomsNot reported4
Lim et al 201142 CanadaPilot RCT31–8120Advanced cancer painElectroacupuncture(ESAS)20 min/ treatment weekly for 4 weeksPrincipal investigator, a radiation oncologist and a certified medical acupuncturistAcupuncture had an immediate effect on all symptoms including pain and it was well toleratedLeg stiffness; falling asleep sensation2
Dean-Clower et al 201045 USAPilot prospective trial>2132Advanced cancer painAcupunctureBrief Pain Inventory12 acupuncture sessions over 8 weeksLicensed acupuncturistsPatients’ pain severity and pain interference scores were significantly improvedNone3
Johnstone et al 200241 USARetrospective chart review19–8041Cancer or cancer-related painTraditional Chinese acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and Korean hand and Japanese scalp acupuncture+standard allopathic careVisual Analogue ScaleUnknown number of acupuncture sessions over 4 monthsLicensed physician; acupuncturist55% pain patients showed at least 30% improvement, and 33% showed at least 80% improvementNone4
Dillon and Lucas 199944 UKNon-randomised cohort study22–7828Malignant bone painAuricular stud acupuncture/Seirin semipermanent press needleSubjective assessment of pain relief (0–4 scale)2-week intervals for 4 weeksAuricular acupuncture significantly reduced pain levelsNone3
  • *Levels of Evidence based on the Quality Rating Scheme for Studies and Other Evidence modified from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine for rating of individual studies; available online at

  • RCT, randomised controlled trial.