Objectives: To determine the effect of acupuncture on hot flash frequency and intensity, quality of life, and sleep quality in patients undergoing hormonal therapy for prostate cancer. Hot flashes are a common adverse effect of hormonal therapy for prostate cancer. Methods: Men who had a hot flash score >4 who were receiving androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer underwent acupuncture with electrostimulation biweekly for 4 weeks, then weekly for 6 weeks, using a predefined treatment plan. The primary endpoint was a 50% reduction in the hot flash score after 4 weeks of therapy, calculated from the patients' daily hot flash diaries. The hot flash-related quality of life and sleep quality and biomarkers potentially related to hot flashes, including serotonin, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, were examined. Results: A total of 25 men were enrolled from September 2003 to April 2007. Of these, 22 were eligible and evaluable. After 4 weeks, 9 (41%, 95% confidence interval 21%-64%) of 22 patients had had a >50% reduction in the hot flash score. Of the 22 patients, 12 (55%, 95% confidence interval 32%-76%) met this response definition at any point during the therapy course. No patient had a significant increase in hot flash score during therapy. A reduced hot flash score was associated with improvement in the hot flash-related quality of life and sleep quality. Conclusions: Multiple placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated a 25% response rate to placebo treatment for hot flashes. Of the 22 patients, 41% had responded by week 4 and 55% overall in the present pilot study, providing evidence of a potentially meaningful benefit. Additional studies of acupuncture for hot flashes in this population are warranted.
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