Another small confirmatory study of acupuncture to treat the side effects of hormone deprivation (ADT) was published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology. The study found that acupuncture appears to provide long-lasting relief to hot flashes, heart palpitations, and anxiety due to side effects of hormone treatment for prostate cancer.

This prospective study was conducted in the department of radiation oncology and the acupuncture section of New York Methodist Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York.. The study was very small, evaluating only 14 men who were experiencing hot flashes due to hormone therapy for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

Upon enrollment the men were given a hot flash score to evaluate their discomfort from daily hot flashes. The mean initial hot flash score was 28.3.

The subjects then were given acupuncture twice a week for 30 minutes at a time for 4 weeks. Two weeks after receiving acupuncture, their hot flash score was measured again. At the time of the re-rest the mean had dropped more than half to 10.3. At 6 weeks post-treatment, the subjects’ hot flash score was 7.5 and then after 8 months, the men were evaluated again and their mean hot flash score was 7.

Lead author Hani Ashamalla, MD, of New York Methodist Hospital said, “Our study shows that physicians and patients have an additional treatment for something that affects many men undergoing prostate cancer treatment and actually has long-term benefits, as opposed to more side effects,”

There have been many small similar studies in the past; usually their results are the same. I personally participated in one such study over five years ago and I too had relief from hot flashes.

Acupuncture clearly provides relief for many men from the persistent and bothersome side effects of ADT.

Hani Ashamalla, MD etal., International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics (2011; 79:1358-63)

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.