Acupuncture Abstracts SIO 2006

Abstract #62 A Retrospective Review Investigating the Feasibility of Acupuncture as a Supportive Care Agent in a Pediatric Oncology Service

Rooney, D, Ladas EJ, Taromina K, Hughes, D, Kelly KM

Purpose: Acupuncture may have a role as a supportive care agent among individuals with cancer, however no randomized clinical trials have been reported in children undergoing treatment for cancer or undergoing stem cell transplants. As part of the developmental work for planning a trial of acupuncture in children with cancer, we described the preliminary experience with the introduction of an acupuncture program in a pediatric oncology service, including information on the children’s acceptance of acupuncture and the symptoms addressed.

Methods: Medical records of 25 participants between the ages of 1 and 22 who were undergoing treatment for cancer or undergoing stem cell transplant for non-oncologic conditions from March 2005 to January 2006 were reviewed after obtaining institutional review board approval. Information on demographics, cancer or stem cell transplant diagnosis, chief complaint, number of acupuncture treatments, acupuncture acceptance, and acupuncture side effects were recorded.

Results: 172 sessions of acupuncture were provided in the inpatient and outpatient settings to children undergoing treatment for brain tumor (n=6), Ewing’s sarcoma/PNET (n=5), osteosarcoma (n=2), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (n=4), Hodgkin’s disease (n=2), nasopharyngeal carcinoma (n=2), rhabdomyosarcoma (n=1), and for children undergoing stem cell transplants for sickle cell anemia (n=2).

The majority of patients received more than one acupuncture treatment, with a mean of 6.9 (range 1-32) sessions per patient. Acupunture was acceptable to children as young as 1 year, with a median age of 15. In this cohort, 4 subjects were 10 years of age or younger. Four children initially used acupressure/acuseeds, before requesting treatment with acupuncture. Children received acupuncture for nausea/vomiting, well-being, diarrhea, neuropathy, pain, headaches, high blood pressure, skin rash, constipation, urination difficulty, cachexia, anxiety and thrombocytopenia.

Conclusions: The provision of acupuncture is feasible and well accepted among children with diverse malignancies and undergoing stem cell transplants. Acupuncture was accepted by a wide age range of children. Some children may have a greater acceptance of this therapy by trying acupressure techniques before initiating treatment with acupuncture.

Acupuncture may be safely administered even to children with thrombocytopenia. The descriptive nature of this study helped identify potential areas where acupuncture may have a role as a supportive care agent that can be investigated through future randomized controlled trials in a homogenous patient population.

Notes from the presentation:

11 males to 14 females; age range 1-22; race – Caucasian = 15, Hispanic = 7, Black = 1, Other = 2.

The children were generally treated while receiving chemotherapy. The children talked to each other about the lack of pain and that acupuncture was ‘cool’. The needles do not have to be retained in the patient – it is usually kept for about 20 minutes or more. In this case, breathing was coordinated with insertion, the needle was twirled, then removed.

Society for Integrative Oncology, 2006

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