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Qigong in Cancer Care
10 Apr 2016
Major contributor: P.J. Klein

Have you ever thought about starting a qigong program dedicated to individuals with cancer, or perhaps you already work with these individuals? Fatigue and emotional stress number among the many potential untoward consequences of treatment and long­-term management of cancer. Now, you can state with confidence that research has proven that qigong can be effective as supportive cancer care.

A newly published systematic review* assessing the strength of evidence validating the role of qigong as supportive cancer care has just been released on PubMed. A review of 11 randomized clinical trials found evidence that qigong (or tai chi performed as qigong) had positive effects on cancer­ specific quality of life, fatigue, immune function, and cortisol levels of individuals with cancer.

In addition to reviewing research evidence, the article also describes elements of successful programs. Qigong therapy protocols used in the research varied supporting a plurality of styles. These styles included Medical Qigong, Guo Lin Qigong, Tai Chi Chih, Qigong/Tai Chi Easy, Kuala Lumpur Qigong, ​8­-Form Tai Chi, and the standardized International 24­movement Tai Chi form.

As the old adage states: There are many paths up the mountain, and the qigong style or form may not be as important as how the class is adapted to the individual’s needs. Qualitative analyses of effective programs identified common design constructs. Content constructs included training in mindful exercise (gentle, integrated, repetitious, flowing, weight ­bearing movements), breath regulation, meditation, energy cultivation through movement, intent and self­ massage, and emphasis on relaxation. Logistic constructs included delivery by qualified instructors, home practice, and accommodation for impaired activity tolerance.

It is hoped that this research will serve as justification and impetus to broaden access to qigong for individuals experiencing cancer as well as to guide adaption of programming for successful practice.


*Klein PJ, Schneider R, Rhoads CJ. Qigong in cancer care: a systematic review and construct analysis of effective Qigong therapy. Support Care Cancer. 2016 Apr 5. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 27044279.