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Cancer Genetics

Neurostimulators Effect on Leukemia

04/16/1999

Question:

Hello :-)

My husband has AML(acute myelogenous leukemia)in remission for 6 years now ( a third remission). He took place in a clinical trial of a new drug which stripped the nerves in his leg, ear and hand, resulting in painful neuropathy, especially in his leg. We have done several procedures, including acupuncture, radio frequency neuralgia, epidural nerve blocks, and various medications

My question is two-fold: 1. What remedies are available that are new that are not in the list I mentioned? 2. They have suggested a neurostimulator, to be implanted in his spine, what are the chances of the leukemia cells mutating from the electrical impulses being generated?

His doctors do not have the answers to the above questions, since no one with leukemia has had stats taken.

really appreciate your time

Answer:

I can provide you with information for the second part of your question but not the first part.

Electrical impulses from sources such as living under high tension power lines are not thought to cause or promote cancer. Unlike X-rays, power fields do not break the chemical bonds in the molecules which make up DNA and other substances in the body. Some studies have yielded mixed results.

Occupational exposure is another matter. Studies of workers exposed to electromagnetic radiations in electrical industries have shown an association with an increased risk to develop leukemia. It is difficult to say whether it is due to the electromagnetic exposure or to the other hazardous agents and chemicals found in industrial jobs.

There is no way to give a good estimate of whether a neurostimulator would increase the likelihood of leukemia cells mutating. The scientific information is certainly mixed. You and your husband should make the decision about the neurostimulator along with your healthcare providers.

Your question about the treatment of your husband`s neuropathy would best be answered by a neurologist. Unfortunately, Ask an Expert does not currently have a neurology expert.

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Response by:

Judith A Westman, MD Judith A Westman, MD
Associate Professor, Clinical Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Medical Biochemistry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University