Know the Evidence: QIGONG IN CANCER CARE

There is a growing body of evidence confirming the role of Qigong in supportive cancer
In 2014, Zeng and colleagues, out of Guangzhou Medical University, published a review of
the research addressing Qigong in cancer care. This meta-analysis included 13 RCT’s. Nine
RCTs were included in pooling of data for meta-analyses. Most studies were small pilot
studies. The largest study, conducted by Oh et al, 2010, provided the strongest evidence.
The Oh et al study found evidence of effect for outcomes of fatigue, quality of life (QOL) and
mediation of inflammation. Zeng and colleagues concluded from their meta-analysis that
Qigong /tai chi had positive effects on cancer specific QOL fatigue, immune function and
cortisol levels of individuals experiencing cancer. In their discussion, Zeng et al noted that
while there is evidence that any exercise benefits those with cancer, there is no evidence
that cancer-specific QOL benefits are found with traditional Western exercise; this finding is
unique to the Eastern exercise of Qigong /Tai chi.
Zeng Y, Luo T, Xie H, Huang M, Cheng AS. Health benefits of Qigong or tai chi for
cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analyses. Complement Ther Med. 2014
Feb;22(1):173-86. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.11.010. Epub 2013 Dec 18. Review.
PubMed PMID: 24559833.
In 2016, Klein at al independently validated the conclusions of Zeng and colleagues
analyzing 11 Qigong studies and conducting a construct analyses on content and logistics of
their evidence-based programming. Qigong exercise was found to be effective in supportive
care to address cancer-related quality of life. Multiple modes of Qigong were included, and
Qigong exercise, meditation, and self-massage were found to be essential therapeutic
elements of practice.
Klein PJ, Schneider R, Rhoads CJ. (2016) Qigong in cancer care: a systematic review
and construct analysis of Qigong therapy. Support Care Cancer 24(7), 3209-22. doi:
10.1007/s00520-016-3201-7. Epub 2016 Apr 5. Review. PubMed PMID: 27044279.
Among the many studies addressing Qigong in cancer care, several researchers substantiate
the role of Qigong in cancer care.
Campo RA, Light KC, O’Conner K, et al (2015) Blood pressure, salivary cortisol, and
inflammatory cytokine outcomes in senior female cancer survivors enrolled in a tai
chi chih randomized controlled trial. J Cancer Surviv 9(1):115-25. doi:
10.1007/s11764-014-0395-x. Epub 2014 Aug 28 PMID: 25164513
Campo RA, Agarwal N, LaStayo PC, O’Connor K, Pappas L, Boucher KM, Gardner J,
Smith S, Light KC, Kinney AY. (2014) Levels of fatigue and distress in senior prostate
cancer survivors enrolled in a 12-week randomized controlled trial of Qigong. J
Cancer Surviv. 2014 Mar;8(1):60-9. doi: 10.1007/s11764-013-0315-5. Epub 2013 Oct
30. PubMed PMID: 24170679; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3945387. Free PMC
Chen Z, Meng Z, Milbury K, Bei W, Zhang Y, Thornton B, Liao Z, Wei Q, Chen J, Guo X,
Liu L, McQuade J, Kirschbaum C, Cohen L (2013) Qigong improves quality of life in
women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer: results of a randomized clinical
trial. Cancer 119(9):1690-8. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27904. Epub 2013 Jan 25. PubMed
PMID: 23355182; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3852682 Free PMC Article
Irwin, Olmstead, Breen et al (2014) Tai chi, cellular inflammation, and transcriptome
dynamics in breast cancer survivors with insomnia. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr
2014(50):295-301.doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgu028
Lam, SWY (2004) A randomized, controlled trial of Guolin qigong in patients receiving
transcatheter arterial chemoembolisation for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma,
Masters dissertation Hong Kong, China, The University of Hong Kong
Larkey LK, Roe DJ, Weihs KL, Jahnke R, Lopez AM, Rogers CE, Oh B, Guillen-Rodriguez
J (2015) Randomized Controlled Trial of Qigong/Tai Chi Easy on Cancer-Related
Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 49(2):165-176
Liu P, You J, Sun Y, He Y, Sit H, Jia L, Wong M, Xia Z, Zheng X, Wang Z, et al. the efficacy
of Guolin-Qigong on the mind-body health of Chinese women with breast cancer: a
randomized controlled trial. Qual Life Res. 2017 Apr 18; Apr 18. doi:
10.1007/s11136-017-1576-7. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28421384
Loh SY, Lee SY, Murray L (2014) The Kuala Lumpur Qigong trial for women in cancer
survivorship phase-efficacy of a three-arm RCT to improve QOL. Asian Pac J Cancer
Prev 15(19):8127-34. PMID: 25338995 Free Article
Oh B, Butow PN, Mullan BA, Clarke SJ, Beale PJ, Pavlakis N, Lee MS, Rosenthal DS,
Larkey L, Vardy J (2012) Effect of medical Qigong on cognitive function, quality of life,
and a biomarker of inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial.
Support Care Cancer 20(6):1235-42. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1209-6. Epub 2011
Jun 19. PubMed PMID: 21688163.
Oh B, Butow P, Mullan B, Clarke S, Beale P, Pavlakis N, Kothe E, Lam L, Rosenthal D
(2010) Impact of medical Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood and inflammation in
cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Oncol 21(3):608-14. doi:
10.1093/annonc/mdp479. Epub 2009 Oct 30. Free PMC Article
Oh B, Butow P, Mullan B, Clarke S, Beale P, Pavlakis N, Kothe E, Lam L, Rosenthal D
(2010) Impact of medical Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood and inflammation in
cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Oncol 21(3):608-14. doi:
10.1093/annonc/mdp479. Epub 2009 Oct 30. Free PMC Article
NOTE: An overview of Qigong practice in cancer care can be found in a recent article:
Klein PJ. Qigong in Cancer Care: Theory, Evidence-base, and Practice [available online at]
Source: KNOW THE EVIDENCE 2017: A report of the NQA Research and Education Committee Jun 30, 2017
 Major contributors: PJ Klein, PT, EdD (contact:, J Baumgarden, DPT
 This edition of the ‘Know the Evidence’ resource exists as a chapter authored by PJ Klein, PT,
EdD and J. Baumgarden, DPT in the text ‘Heal Yourself with Qigong’ by Master George Picard,
Village of Healing and Wellness, St Catharines, ONT, Canada, and is reprinted with their
permission. Picard G. Heal Yourself with Qigong 2nd ed. Spiral Graphics:Canada. 2017.