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Trial registered on ANZCTR

Registration number
Ethics application status
Date submitted
Date registered
Date last updated
Date data sharing statement initially provided
Type of registration
Prospectively registered

Titles & IDs
Public title
Acupuncture to treat cancer related fatigue
Scientific title
Feasibility study: Targeting post cancer fatigue among women and men with breast cancer using acupuncture compared with treatment as usual
Secondary ID [1] 287615 0
Universal Trial Number (UTN)
Trial acronym
Linked study record

Health condition
Health condition(s) or problem(s) studied:
Cancer fatigue 296418 0
Health related quality of life 296419 0
Anxiety 296420 0
Depression 296421 0
Condition category
Condition code
Alternative and Complementary Medicine 296685 296685 0 0
Other alternative and complementary medicine
Cancer 296743 296743 0 0
Mental Health 296744 296744 0 0
Other mental health disorders

Study type
Description of intervention(s) / exposure
A semi-standardised treatment will be administered, this will allow for each participant to have a customized treatment within a standardized theory-driven framework. Participants will receive five points administered at each session (LI4, ST36, REN4, SP6, LI11). Participants will undergo a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnosis prior to the first treatments session. The diagnosis and treatment will follow an agreed algorithm and will take 60-90 minutes. The diagnosis will guide the customised acupuncture treatment.Additional points may be selected from the following list: SP9, GV14, SiShenCong, Du20, Lu7, Ht6, UB23, UB20, Liv3, P6, GB34, UB62, SI3. This first session will last 60-90 minutes.

The needles will be retained in situ for a minimum of 20 minutes, with the duration of each treatment lasting 45 minutes. Single-use disposable stainless steel Serin needles (0.25 x 40mm and 0.22 x 25mm) will be used. All participants will receive the de qi sensation (a needling sensation of soreness, numbness or heaviness) following initial insertion and once more during treatment. Reinforcing or reducing stimulation will be given according to the TCM diagnoses. Needles will be inserted to depths according to standard texts.

Participants will be offered 10 treatments with treatments commencing week one (one treatment), week two and three (twice weekly), week four to eight (once weekly). Treatment visits will be recorded to monitor adherence to the treatment protocol.

This group receives both acupuncture and treatment as usual.
Intervention code [1] 293006 0
Treatment: Other
Comparator / control treatment
Treatment as usual: is based on a clinical guideline describing the management of CRF This guideline describes education about fatigue, physician and nurse advice during routine consultation on general strategies that help manage fatigue, and advice to initiate and maintain levels of exercise. Existing information brochures from the Cancer Council and NBCF will be made available to participants in this group. Invitation to and voluntary participation in recruiting hospital programmes such as Living Well after Breast Cancer offered by Liverpool Cancer Support Centre will continue as normal for women.
Control group

Primary outcome [1] 296290 0
Severity of CRF assessed using the Fatigue Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy- Fatigue Scale, and the Structured Clinical Interview for Neurasthenia.
Timepoint [1] 296290 0
Baseline and eight weeks.
Primary outcome [2] 296291 0
Number of women approached to obtain 20 randomisations? Assessed from notes in responses to interest from potential participants and outcomes from screening assessment..
Timepoint [2] 296291 0
8 weeks
Primary outcome [3] 296361 0
Reasons for women not agreeing to participate? Assessed using notes to monitor outcomes from providing information to potential participants.
Timepoint [3] 296361 0
8 weeks
Secondary outcome [1] 318091 0
Health related quality of life measured using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy Breast Cancer,
Timepoint [1] 318091 0
Baseline and eight weeks
Secondary outcome [2] 318239 0
Anxiety and depression measured using the DASS.
Timepoint [2] 318239 0
Assessed at baseline and at 8 weeks
Secondary outcome [3] 318326 0
Numbers meeting eligibility criteria,. Assessed using notes to monitor outcomes from providing information to potential participants.
Timepoint [3] 318326 0
8 weeks.
Secondary outcome [4] 318457 0
Drop out rates, Assessed using notes to monitor outcomes from providing information to potential participants.
Timepoint [4] 318457 0
8 weeks.
Secondary outcome [5] 318458 0
Treatment acceptability. Assessed using notes to monitor outcomes from providing information to potential participants.
Timepoint [5] 318458 0
8 weeks

Key inclusion criteria
1) diagnosis of stage I, II, or III BC, who have completed breast surgery, adjuvant or neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and/or adjuvant radiotherapy between one month to 2 years prior to enrolment and who have not developed recurrent disease in the intervening period between diagnosis and study recruitment.
2) Taking adjuvant endocrine therapy and trastuzumab (Herceptin) are eligible
3) Ongoing cancer related fatigue, defined as a score of 4 or more on the fatigue sub scale of the Somatic and Psychological Health Report (SPHERE) questionnaire
4) Normal coagulation coagulation studies: PT, APTT, INR at baseline or within the previous 1 month.
5) Adequate haematological parameters at baseline or within the previous 1 month: Hb greater than 100, ANC greater than 1.0, Platelet count greater than 150.

Minimum age
18 Years
Maximum age
No limit
Both males and females
Can healthy volunteers participate?
Key exclusion criteria
1) Co-morbid medical conditions expected to cause ongoing fatigue, ( significant anaemia (defined as Hb less than 100) or thyroid disease) as assessed by the investigator.
2) Current use of acupuncture.
3) Needle phobia.
4) Concurrent treatment with medication interfering with blood clotting or bleeding time, including heparin and fractionated heparin, vitamin K antagonists, direct thrombin inhibiitors, factor Xa inhibitors, and antiplatelet agents.
5) Life expectancy less than six months.
6) Plan for major surgery during the time of the study e.g. breast reconstruction or re-excision.
7) History of other malignany within 5 years of recruitment, other than CIN of cervix or non-melanomatous skin cancers.

Study design
Purpose of the study
Allocation to intervention
Randomised controlled trial
Procedure for enrolling a subject and allocating the treatment (allocation concealment procedures)
sealed opaque envelopes
Methods used to generate the sequence in which subjects will be randomised (sequence generation)
Computer generated
Masking / blinding
Open (masking not used)
Who is / are masked / blinded?

Intervention assignment
Other design features
Not Applicable
Type of endpoint(s)
Statistical methods / analysis
To carefully measure the effect of acupuncture in a small sample, and test the safety, feasibility and acceptability of acupuncture for management of CRF we will undertake descriptive analysis to summarise the process data describing the feasibility of the study.

A sample size of 20 has been selected to address the study questions. A power analysis and sample size calculation has not been undertaken.

Recruitment status
Date of first participant enrolment
Date of last participant enrolment
Date of last data collection
Sample size
Accrual to date
Recruitment in Australia
Recruitment state(s)
Recruitment hospital [1] 4434 0
Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital - Bankstown
Recruitment hospital [2] 12410 0
Liverpool Hospital - Liverpool
Recruitment postcode(s) [1] 10639 0
2200 - Bankstown
Recruitment postcode(s) [2] 24683 0
2170 - Liverpool

Funding & Sponsors
Funding source category [1] 292176 0
Name [1] 292176 0
Clinical Cancer Research Unit, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital
Address [1] 292176 0
Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital,
Eldridge Road
NSW 2200.
Country [1] 292176 0
Primary sponsor type
Western Sydney University
Western Sydney University
Locked Bag 1797
NSW 2751
Secondary sponsor category [1] 290849 0
Name [1] 290849 0
Address [1] 290849 0
Country [1] 290849 0

Ethics approval
Ethics application status
Ethics committee name [1] 293649 0
South West Sydney LHD
Ethics committee address [1] 293649 0
Research and Ethics Office,
Locked Bag 7103
Liverpool BC
NSW, 1871
Ethics committee country [1] 293649 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [1] 293649 0
Approval date [1] 293649 0
Ethics approval number [1] 293649 0
Ethics committee name [2] 293650 0
University of Western Sydney
Ethics committee address [2] 293650 0
Locked Bag 1797
NSW 2751
Ethics committee country [2] 293650 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [2] 293650 0
Approval date [2] 293650 0
Ethics approval number [2] 293650 0

Brief summary
The primary purpose of this study is to investigate whether it is effective and feasible to treat post cancer related fatigue (CRF) using acupuncture. Who is it for? You may be eligible to join this study if you are aged 18 or over with ongoing cancer related fatigue and have been diagnosed with stage I, II or III breast cancer for which you have received breast surgery, adjuvant or neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and/or adjuvant radiotherapy between one month and two years previously with no recurrent disease since diagnosis. Study details Participants enrolled in this study will be randomly allocated (by chance) to receive either standard care as per usual or an eight week course of ten acupuncture sessions. The first session will include a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnosis and will take approximately 60-90 minutes in total. All remaining sessions will take approximately 45 minutes, using a minimum of five needle points at specified locations, and with a selection of pre-specified additional needle locations to use at the discretion of the acupuncture therapist based on the TCM diagnosis. Participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire prior to the first session and following the final treatment session to assess the severity of their CRF. Researchers will also use recruitment rates to assess whether it is feasible to conduct a larger study in the future. It is hoped that the findings of this study will provide greater understanding of the potential benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of CRF, and provide a foundation on which a larger study can be conducted.
Trial website
Trial related presentations / publications
Public notes

Principal investigator
Name 60826 0
Prof Caroline Smith
Address 60826 0
National Institute of Complementary Medicine
Western Sydney University
Locked Bag 1797
NSW 2751
Country 60826 0
Phone 60826 0
+61 2 46203777
Fax 60826 0
Email 60826 0
Contact person for public queries
Name 60827 0
Prof Caroline Smith
Address 60827 0
National Institute of Complementary Medicine
Western Sydney University
Locked Bag 1797
NSW 2751
Country 60827 0
Phone 60827 0
+61 2 46203777
Fax 60827 0
Email 60827 0
Contact person for scientific queries
Name 60828 0
Prof Caroline Smith
Address 60828 0
National Institute of Complementary Medicine
Western Sydney University
Locked Bag 1797
NSW 2751
Country 60828 0
Phone 60828 0
+61 2 46203777
Fax 60828 0
Email 60828 0

Data sharing statement
Will individual participant data (IPD) for this trial be available (including data dictionaries)?
No/undecided IPD sharing reason/comment
No current ethics approval
What supporting documents are/will be available?
No other documents available
Summary results
No Results