When the Integrative Therapies Program first started to explore the benefits of acupuncture to deal with chemotherapy-associated nausea, physicians assumed that children hospitalized for cancer would be fearful of needles. It was also generally believed that acupuncture should not be given to a patient with low platelet counts.
The ITP has conducted two important studies investigating the acceptance of acupuncture among young patients at The Herbert Irving Child & Adolescent Cancer Center. Over a 6-month period, 172 acupuncture treatments were delivered to 25 individuals. The mean number of treatments per patient was 6.9 (range 1-32), demonstrating a high acceptance among patients ranging from 1 to 22 years, with diverse malignancies.
Next we addressed the safety of acupuncture for pediatric patients with severe, moderate, and mild thrombocytopenia. No bleeding side effects were observed and the treatment was well tolerated. Our results were reported in Supportive Care. These studies led to a series of national lectures by Kathy Taromina, an acupuncturist in the Integrative Therapies Program.