This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Hematopoietic stem cell transplant, or HSCT, is a type of cancer treatment that replaces a patient’s unhealthy blood cells with healthy ones. Before HSCT treatment, patients must first get high-dose chemotherapy, which can cause painful swelling in the mouth. This pain can lead to weight loss, depression, and lower quality of life.
Cancer treatment guidelines recommend that doctors treat pain using both medicine and alternative approaches. Doctors often use medicines called opioids to treat patients’ pain. But opioids have side effects, such as drowsiness and nausea. It may also be hard for patients to stop using opioids after cancer treatment. One alternative approach is acupuncture. Acupuncture involves inserting small needles into different parts of the body to treat pain.
In this study, the research team is comparing these two ways to manage pain among patients receiving HSCT treatment.
Who can this research help?
Results may help patients receiving HSCT treatment and doctors when considering ways to manage pain and limit the use of opioids.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is recruiting 300 patients with cancer who are receiving HSCT treatment at two clinics. The team is assigning patients by chance to one of two treatment approaches:
- Acupuncture plus opioids. In this approach, patients receive five acupuncture treatments in one week. If acupuncture doesn’t prevent severe pain, patients receive opioids.
- Standard pain management with opioids. In this approach, patients receive opioids for severe pain.
Patients complete surveys before starting chemotherapy and 7, 15, 30, and 90 days later. Surveys ask about pain, symptoms from chemotherapy and HSCT treatment, the dose and number of opioid pills patients take, side effects of opioids, and quality of life.
Patients with cancer are helping to design the study and recruit patients.
Research methods at a glance
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Other Clinical Interventions