Treatment Of Chemotherapy Induced Neutropenia
Many cancer patients suffer from low white blood cell counts. This can be dangerous for patients because they are less able to fight off infection, at a time when they cannot afford to be sick. Diminished white blood cell counts occur for at least two separate reasons. First, for many patients the chemotherapy in intended to or has the side effect of suppressing the immune system. Because our white blood cells are an integral part of our immune system, they are impacted. Second, chemotherapy is aimed at first growing cells — which most cancers are. However, other fast growing cells are also effected. For instance, our hair cells grow extremely fast and that is why so many chemotherapy patients suffer hair loss during the course of their treatment. Another rapidly reproducing cell system, is the digestive system. As such many patients lose their appetites or are less able to absorb nutrients. This can result is a compromised immune function.
ACUPUNCTURE STUDIES CONCERNING NEUTROPENIA
Regardless, of the cause of immune system dysfunction, acupuncture can be very effective in helping to support immune function. Recent studies suggest that patients who receive acupuncture during chemotherapy have better white blood cell counts.
In a controlled study using both sham and real acupuncture, White Blood Cell counts and absolute neutrophil count reduction was decreased twofold in the true acupuncture group as compared with the sham acupuncture group. Lu W, Matulonis UA, Doherty-Gilman A, Lee H, Dean-Clower E, Rosulek A, Gibson C, Goodman A, Davis RB, Buring JE, Wayne PM, Rosenthal DS, Penson RT: Acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced neutropenia in patients with gynecologic malignancies: a pilot randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jul;15(7):745-53.
White blood cell counts increased at a statistically significant level after six acupuncture treatments and then remained consistently higher in the true acupuncture group.
As Researchers concluded this is significant because diminished white blood cell counts can result in delays in scheduled chemotherapy treatments, and dose reductions or modifications. These outcomes might well be reduced by the use of acupuncture interventions.