Cancer Pain

New Guidelines Published for Pain Management in Patients With Cancer

The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) put together a panel of experts consisting of integrative oncologists, medical oncologists, nurses, and patient advocacy representatives to develop and publish a new joint practice guideline recommending safe and effective treatments for common cancer symptoms. The SIO-ASCO guidelines aim to fill the several gaps in knowledge that physicians and health care providers have regarding pain management for patients with cancer.

The panel assessed systemic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized controlled trials (n = 227). Based on their review of the literature as well as their own clinical expertise, reached an informal consensus to create guideline recommendations.

Among the list of recommendations, the guidelines suggest the use of various types of therapies to help alleviate pain, including acupuncture. The guidelines recommend the use of acupuncture for aromatase inhibitor-related joint pain, general cancer pain, or musculoskeletal pain.

Other forms of therapy recommended in the guidelines include:

  • Massage therapy
  • Mind-body interventions or natural products
  • Reflexology
  • Hypnosis
  • Music therapy

Even with the release of these new guidelines, some gaps remain. For example, there is insufficient evidence to apply the guidelines to pediatric patient care. Additionally, the authors note that more research is needed to better categorize the role of integrative medicine interventions in cancer care.


—Jessica Ganga


Mao JJ, Ismaila N, Bao T, et al. Integrative medicine for pain management in oncology. Clin Oncol. Published online September 19, 2022. doi:10.1200/JCO.22. 01357.