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Qigong in Managing a Cluster of Symptoms in Patients with Lung Cancer

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 11 December 2021
Qigong in Managing a Cluster of Symptoms in Patients with Lung Cancer

A randomised controlled trial investigated the effect of Qigong in patients diagnosed with lung cancer.

Qigong is an ancient system of exercises rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy. They are designed to cultivate and influence “Qi” in order to improve the health and harmony of the mind and body. This is done by coordinating the breath with gentle movements and visualisation while standing and moving through set sequences. There are literally thousands of different examples and styles.

The practise of Qigong has been shown to have helpful effects on those who suffer from complex chronic health problems and there is now plenty of evidence to show that Qigong exercise has a useful role in supportive cancer care. It is associated with significant improvement in fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression, and overall quality of life.

When compared to more traditional physical exercise, Qigong practice has been found to have added value in terms of improvements in the quality of life. 

What does it Involve?
A typical Qigong class begins with a loosening of the joints in a gentle warm-up. Loosening the joints and warming the muscles is generally advised before any exercise as it reduces the risk of joint or muscle strain.  

The main part of the class consists of gentle exercises, moving the body through graceful set sequences coordinated with the breath, and meditation – where we keep the body still and visualise energy movement tied to our breath while standing in a posture of relaxation.

What changes can I expect?
The first thing people notice when they begin to practice Qigong is that it calms them. As stress and anxiety reduce, focus increases, and they begin to feel more at home in their bodies. With practice, the stance improves and this leads to an advance in balance and flexibility.

The conclusion of the randomised trial found that Qigong was effective in reducing dyspnea and cough of patients with lung cancer, and improved their quality of life.  More than 6 weeks were needed, however, for detecting the effect of Qigong on improving dyspnea. Furthermore, men benefited more than women. 


Molassiotis A, Vu DV, Ching SSY. The Effectiveness of Qigong in Managing a Cluster of Symptoms (Breathlessness-Fatigue-Anxiety) in Patients with Lung Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Integr Cancer Ther. 2021 Jan-Dec;20:15347354211008253. doi: 10.1177/15347354211008253. PMID: 33847150; PMCID: PMC8047940.

Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsEvidence Based ResearchCancerLung cancer


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia