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Acupuncture against chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in pediatric oncology

Interim results of a multicenter crossover study

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In this multicenter crossover study, our aim was to evaluate the efficacy and acceptance of acupuncture as a supportive antiemetic approach during highly emetogenic chemotherapy in pediatric oncology.

Patients and methods

Eleven children receiving several courses of highly emetogenic chemotherapy for treatment of solid tumors were included. Randomization allocated patients to start chemotherapy either with antiemetic medication plus acupuncture or antiemetic medication alone. During all study courses, patients continued to receive their programmed and additional antiemetic medication as needed. Acupuncture was given at day 1 of chemotherapy and at subsequent days on patient’s demand. The amount of baseline and additional antiemetic medication during chemotherapy was documented. Patients maintained a daily diary of vomiting episodes and completed an evaluated nausea score at the end of every course. Their body weight was taken before and after a chemotherapy course.

Main results

Twenty-two courses with or without acupuncture were compared. The benefits of acupuncture in adolescents with respect to the reduction of additional antiemetic medication were observed. Acupuncture enabled patients to experience higher levels of alertness during chemotherapy and reduced nausea and vomiting. Except for needle pain, no side effects were noted. Patient’s acceptance of acupuncture was high.


Our data indicate that acupuncture might reduce antiemetic medication and episodes of vomiting in pediatric oncology.

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We are indebted to all staff members who collaborated in the individual study centers. Furthermore, we thank Seirin Kasei & Co. Deutschland GmbH for providing acupuncture needles. This study was supported by a grant from the C.D. Foundation and the Friedrich-Spicker Foundation.

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Correspondence to Tobias K. Reindl.

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Reindl, T.K., Geilen, W., Hartmann, R. et al. Acupuncture against chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in pediatric oncology. Support Care Cancer 14, 172–176 (2006).

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