A Study Comparing Acupuncture with Massage for Pain and Related Symptoms in People with Advanced Cancer


Full Title

Integrative Medicine for Pain in Patients with Advanced Cancer Trial (IMPACT)


Pain is one of the most common symptoms among people with advanced cancer, and it has been linked to other symptoms, such as tiredness, trouble sleeping, and a decrease in quality of life. There is a great need for treatments other than medications for pain and related symptoms.

The purpose of this study is to compare the long-term effectiveness of acupuncture versus massage to relieve pain and related symptoms in people living with advanced cancer. Researchers will also look at whether certain factors (such as pain severity and insomnia) or demographic characteristics (such as sex, race, and age) increase the effectiveness of either approach. They will also check whether participants’ thoughts related to acupuncture and massage (for example, expecting certain outcomes) influence how they respond to the therapy.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that involves penetrating the skin with very thin, solid needles that are moved by hand or by electrical stimulation. Massage treatment involves the movement of muscles and other areas of tissue to promote joint flexibility, relieve muscle tension, and improve range of motion. Participants in this study will be randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture or massage therapy weekly for 10 weeks followed by monthly sessions for up to 4 months. All participants will also continue to receive the standard care prescribed by their physicians.


To be eligible for this study, patients must meet several criteria, including but not limited to the following:

  • Patients must have a diagnosis of stage III or IV lung cancer; any stage of pancreatic cancer; inoperable bile duct cancer; inoperable liver cancer; inoperable ampullary or peri-ampullary cancer or other stage IV digestive cancer; stage III or IV ovarian or fallopian tube cancers or other stage IV gynecologic cancer; stage IV breast cancer; stage IV genitourinary cancer; stage III or IV sarcoma; stage IV melanoma; stage III or IV head/neck cancer; or stage IV endocrine cancer.
  • Patients must be experiencing moderate to severe musculoskeletal pain or nerve pain for at least 15 of the preceding 30 days.
  • Patients with implanted electronic medical devices may not participate.
  • This study is for patients age 18 and older.

For more information about this study, please contact the Clinical Research Coordinator at 646-449-1028 or email medimpactstudy@mskcc.org.





Disease Status

Newly Diagnosed & Relapsed/Refractory