The safety of acupuncture in children and adolescents with cancer therapy-related thrombocytopenia

Support Care Cancer. 2010 Nov;18(11):1487-90. doi: 10.1007/s00520-010-0926-6. Epub 2010 Jun 18.


Purpose: Acupuncture is frequently used to manage the side effects associated with cancer therapy. In acupuncture practice, the presence of thrombocytopenia is a relative contraindication to acupuncture use among patients with cancer. However, the safety of acupuncture in patients with cancer treatment-related thrombocytopenia has not been previously investigated.

Methods: Medical records of 32 patients receiving acupuncture at an academic medical center with an established acupuncture program during treatment for cancer or during stem cell transplantation were reviewed.

Results: Of 237 acupuncture sessions, 20%, 8%, and 19% of the sessions were administered to patients with severe, moderate, and mild thrombocytopenia, respectively. No bleeding side effects were observed.

Conclusions: This retrospective case series provides descriptive data on the safety of acupuncture using Japanese J-type Seirin needles, with mild manual stimulation administered at 0.5-cun depth in patients with cancer with and without thrombocytopenia. Prospective trials are needed to confirm these initial observations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Acupuncture Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Thrombocytopenia / etiology
  • Thrombocytopenia / therapy*
  • Young Adult