A message from our friends at the Army of Women

Are you a breast cancer survivor who is just too tired to read this entire e-blast? You’re not alone! Sleep problems, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, are familiar to many breast cancer survivors. A group of researchers at Stanford University is studying whether acupuncture can reduce sleep disruption and improve sleep in breast cancer survivors. Currently, there are no studies evaluating the effectiveness of needle acupuncture for insomnia in cancer patients.

This study may sound familiar to you. That is because we first sent a Call to Action in February to recruit 64 female breast cancer survivors in the San Francisco Bay Area. With help from the Army of Women, the research team is almost halfway to their goal. Let’s help get them to the finish line! If you are a female breast cancer survivor living in the San Francisco Bay Area who has completed treatment (hormonal treatment is OK), and who has difficulty falling or staying asleep, please read on to learn more about what’s involved and who can participate.

We know that not everyone will be able to join this study. But that’s OK! Every member of the Army of Women community has a chance to participate in her own, important way–by joining a study, passing along our information, or helping recruit new members. Help to fill this study by forwarding the Call to Action to your friends, family members, or anyone you know who might be interested in learning more! And keep looking at our e-blasts–the next study could be the one for you or someone you know!

What’s the study about?

The purpose of the study is to learn whether acupuncture can reduce sleep disruption and improve sleep in breast cancer survivors. The study will enroll 64 female breast cancer survivors who have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

What’s involved?

If you decide to sign up for the Acupuncture for Sleep Problems study and you match the main requirements, you will be asked to go to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., for a screening interview. You will be asked to provide a blood sample and complete questionnaires about your background, medical history, health-related behaviors, sleep, mood, and stresses related to cancer.

If you are eligible for the study and decide to join, you will be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to one of two treatment groups. Group A will receive acupuncture using traditional acupuncture points designed to provide maximal relaxation and help with sleep. Group B will receive acupuncture treatment using sham needles in your body. These are needles that are NOT traditionally associated with relaxation and sleep. Both groups will receive acupuncture treatments twice a week for 6 weeks. Throughout the study and for one month after you complete treatment, you will be asked to complete questionnaires and daily diaries as well as provide blood and saliva samples. You will also be asked to wear a wristwatch-like device that will record your physical activity during the daytime and at night.

The researchers will explain all study activities in detail.

Who is conducting the study?

David Spiegel, MD, Professor and Associate Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine


Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

Who can participate?

You can join the Acupuncture for Sleep Problems study if you match ALL of these MAIN categories:

– You are a woman age 21 or older
– You have been diagnosed with breast cancer of any stage (including DCIS and metastatic disease) at some point in your life. It is OK if it is a recurrence.
– You are not currently undergoing breast cancer treatment (hormonal treatment is OK) OR treatment for another cancer type
– You have been experiencing sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep) for at least one month
– You are NOT currently pregnant or breastfeeding
– You have NOT had acupuncture within the past 6 months
– You are willing and able to stop receiving other treatments for sleep problems during the study period
– You are able to speak, read, and write English
– You live near or are willing to travel (at your own expense) to the Palo Alto, CA area.

After you RSVP, the research staff will ask you additional questions to be sure that this study is the right fit for you.