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Acupuncture for patients with cancer-induced xerostomia: a systematic review protocol
  1. Xixiu Ni1,
  2. Yang Yu1,
  3. Tian Tian1,
  4. Lu Liu1,
  5. Xiao Li1,
  6. Fengmei Li1,
  7. Yue Xu2,
  8. Ling Zhao1
  1. 1Acupuncture and Tuina School, Chengdu University of TCM, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  2. 2Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu University of TCM, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Ling Zhao; zhaoling{at}


Introduction Xerostomia is a common symptom in patients with cancer. Currently available methods to manage xerostomia include stringent oral hygiene using fluoride agents and antimicrobials, saliva substitutes and sialagogic agents, but side effects such as headache, dizziness and sweating can occur with these therapies. Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture may be effective in treating xerostomia. The objective of this systematic review is to assess the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture treatment for xerostomia caused by cancer.

Methods and analysis This systematic review will incorporate articles identified by electronically searching the following databases: PubMed, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, AMED, EMbase, WorldSciNet, Nature, Science Online, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, the Chongqing VIP Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database, the Wanfang Database and China Biology Medicine Disc from inception to 1 December 2019. Other sources including conference proceedings and reference lists of identified publications and existing systematic reviews will also be searched. Two reviewers will independently search the databases, perform data extraction and assess the quality of studies. Data will be synthesised using either a fixed-effects model or a random-effects model, according to heterogeneity testing. Patient-reported change in the Visual Analogue Scale or the Xerostomia Inventory will be assessed as the primary outcome. Saliva collection, whole saliva production and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire C30 will be evaluated as secondary outcomes. RevMan V. 5.3 will be employed for data analysis. The results will be expressed as risk ratios for dichotomous data and mean differences for continuous data.

Ethics and dissemination This protocol will not evaluate individual patient information or affect patient rights and therefore does not require ethical approval. Results from this review will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and conference reports.

Trial registration number CRD42019129069.

  • acupuncture
  • xerostomia
  • cancer
  • systematic review

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • XN and YY contributed equally.

  • Contributors XN and YY contributed equally to this work and designed the study. TT developed the search strategy. LL and XL will search the databases and screen the eligibility of the retrieved studies. YX and FL will extract information from the eligible studies and prepare the information for data analysis. XN and TT will perform the data analysis. XN and LZ wrote the first draft of the protocol. In practice, LZ will monitor each procedure of the review and is responsible for quality control. All authors read the article and approved it for publication.

  • Funding The review is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.81722050, 81973962) and the Interdisciplinary Program of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Grant No.CZYJC1901). Funders and sponsors have no role in the design of this protocol.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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