Photo of Weidong Lu,  MB, PhD, MPH

Weidong Lu, MB, PhD, MPH

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Phone: (617) 632-4350
Fax: (617) 632-3988

Weidong Lu, MB, PhD, MPH

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


  • Instructor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Instructor in Medicine , Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School-Osher Institute
  • Lead oncology acupuncturist, Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Professor of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Herbal Medicine, New England School of Acupuncture


Research Abstract


To investigate the effect of acupuncture administered during myelosuppressive chemotherapy on white blood cell (WBC) count and absolute neutrophil count (ANC) in ovarian cancer patients.


This study is a pilot, randomized, sham controlled clinical trial. Patients received active acupuncture versus sham acupuncture while undergoing chemotherapy. A standardized acupuncture protocol was employed with manual and electro-stimulation. The frequency of treatment was 2-3 times per week for a total of 10 sessions, starting 1 week before the 2nd cycle of chemotherapy.

Setting: The setting was two outpatient academic centers for patients with cancer.

Subjects: Twenty-one (21) newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian cancer patients were the subjects.

Outcome measures: WBC count, ANC and plasma granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) were assessed weekly.


The median leukocyte value in the acupuncture arm at the 1st day of the 3rd cycle of chemotherapy was significantly higher than in the control arm after adjusting for baseline value (8,600 cell/μL, range: 4,800-12,000 vs. 4,400 cell/μL, range: 2,300-10,000) (p=0.046). The incidence of grade 2-4 leukopenia was less in the acupuncture arm than in the sham arm (30% vs. 90%; p=0.02). However, the median leukocyte nadir, neutrophil nadir, and recovering ANC were all higher but not statistically significantly different (p=0.116-0.16), after adjusting for baseline differences. There were no statistically significant differences in plasma G-CSF between the two groups.


We observed clinically relevant trends of higher WBC values during one cycle of chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients, which suggests a potential myeloprotective effect of acupuncture. A larger trial is warranted to more definitively determine the efficacy of acupuncture on clinically important outcomes of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia.


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  • Lu W, Giobbie-Hurder A, Freedman RA, Shin IH, Lin NU, Partridge AH, Rosenthal DS, Ligibel JA. Acupuncture for Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial. Oncologist 2019. PubMed
  • Lu W, Rosenthal DS. Oncology Acupuncture for Chronic Pain in Cancer Survivors: A Reflection on the American Society of Clinical Oncology Chronic Pain Guideline. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 2018; 32:519-533. PubMed
  • Xi D, Bao T, Chen Q, Chen S, Cheng YC, Cullen J, Frank DA, Friedberg JW, Kronish I, Lee JE, Levine M, Li P, Li S, Lu W, Mao JJ, O'Keefe S, Rubinstein L, Shah MA, Standish L, Paller CJ, Chu E. State of the Science: Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapeutics Research-NCI Strategic Workshop Highlights of Discussion Report. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 2017. PubMed
  • Zia FZ, Olaku O, Bao T, Berger A, Deng G, Yin Fan A, Garcia MK, Herman PM, Kaptchuk TJ, Ladas EJ, Langevin HM, Lao L, Lu W, Napadow V, Niemtzow RC, Vickers AJ, Shelley Wang X, Witt CM, Mao JJ. The National Cancer Institute's Conference on Acupuncture for Symptom Management in Oncology: State of the Science, Evidence, and Research Gaps. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 2017. PubMed
  • Lu W, Wayne PM, Davis RB, Buring JE, Li H, Macklin EA, Lorch JH, Burke E, Haddad TC, Goguen LA, Rosenthal DS, Tishler RB, Posner MR, Haddad RI. Acupuncture for Chemoradiation Therapy-Related Dysphagia in Head and Neck Cancer: A Pilot Randomized Sham-Controlled Trial. Oncologist 2016. PubMed
  • Oh B, Kim J, Lu W, Rosenthal D. Anticancer effect of fucoidan in combination with tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2014; 2014:865375. PubMed
  • Lu W, Rosenthal DS. Acupuncture for cancer pain and related symptoms. Curr Pain Headache Rep 2013; 17:321. PubMed
  • Gu C, Qiao J, Zhu M, Du J, Shang W, Yin W, Wang W, Han M, Lu W. Preliminary evaluation of the interactions of Panax ginseng and Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge with 5-fluorouracil on pharmacokinetics in rats and pharmacodynamics in human cells. Am J Chin Med 2013; 41:443-58. PubMed
  • Lu W, Wayne PM, Davis RB, Buring JE, Li H, Goguen LA, Rosenthal DS, Tishler RB, Posner MR, Haddad RI. Acupuncture for dysphagia after chemoradiation in head and neck cancer: rationale and design of a randomized, sham-controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials 2012. PubMed
  • Shang W, Qiao J, Gu C, Yin W, Du J, Wang W, Zhu M, Han M, Lu W. Anticancer activity of an extract from needles and twigs of Taxus cuspidata and its synergistic effect as a cocktail with 5-fluorouracil. BMC Complement Altern Med 2012; 11:123. PubMed
  • Lu W, Rosenthal DS. Recent advances in oncology acupuncture and safety considerations in practice. Curr Treat Options Oncol 2010; 11:141-6. PubMed
  • Dean-Clower E, Doherty-Gilman AM, Keshaviah A, Baker F, Kaw C, Lu W, Manola J, Penson RT, Matulonis UA, Rosenthal DS. Acupuncture as Palliative Therapy for Physical Symptoms and Quality of Life for Advanced Cancer Patients. Integr Cancer Ther 2010; 9:158-67. PubMed
  • Lu W, Ott MJ, Kennedy S, Mathay MB, Doherty-Gilman AM, Dean-Clower E, Hayes CM, Rosenthal DS. Integrative tumor board: a case report and discussion from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Integr Cancer Ther 2009; 8:235-41. PubMed
  • 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; 15:745-53. PubMed
  • Lu W,Dean-Clower E,Doherty-Gilman A,Rosenthal DS. The value of acupuncture in cancer care. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 2008; 22:631-48, viii. PubMed
  • Lu W, Hu D, Dean-Clower E, Doherty-Gilman A, Legedza AT, Lee H, Matulonis U, Rosenthal DS. Acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced leukopenia: exploratory meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Soc Integr Oncol 2007; 5:1-10. PubMed