Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 1487–1490 | Cite as

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

  • Elena J. Ladas
  • Diane Rooney
  • Katherine Taromina
  • Deborah H. Ndao
  • Kara M. Kelly
Short Communication



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.


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.


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.


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.


Thrombocytopenia Acupuncture Complementary/alternative therapies Pediatric and adolescents 



This research study was supported in part by the Tamarind Foundation and Origins Natural Resources. We would like to acknowledge Alexa Weitzman for her assistance with data collection and management.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena J. Ladas
    • 1
  • Diane Rooney
    • 1
  • Katherine Taromina
    • 1
  • Deborah H. Ndao
    • 1
  • Kara M. Kelly
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Oncology, Department of PediatricsColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of Pediatric OncologyColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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