External qigong therapy for women with breast cancer prior to surgery

Lorenzo Cohen, Zhen Chen, Banu Arun, Zhimin Shao, Mark Dryden, Linhhui Xu, Carisa Le-Petross, Basak Dogan, Brian J. McKenna, Maurie Markman, Gildy Babiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The majority of patients with cancer use some form of complementary or alternative medicine. External qigong treatment (EQT), classified as a bioenergy therapy, is one such approach that patients combine with conventional medicine or, in some cases, use in place of conventional medicine. This study aimed to determine whether EQT could shrink breast cancer tumors and improve quality of life (QOL) in women with pathologically confirmed breast cancer awaiting surgery. A total of 9 women with pathologically confirmed breast cancer were recruited from large cancer centers in the United States (n = 5) and China (n = 4). A single-arm pre/post design was used. Each patient underwent 5 consecutive days of EQT, with each treatment lasting from 2 to 5 minutes. All treatments were performed by the same qigong master. Tumor measurements were made before and after the EQT sessions. Tumor assessments were conducted prior to study initiation and following the last EQT. Patients underwent both an ultrasound and mammogram (United States) or an ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (China). All patients also underwent physical broast examinations (PBEs) and completed QOL questionnaires before and after the last EQT. No clinical changes in tumor measurements from pre- to post-EQT were noted. There was also no suggestion of change in tumor size by PBE or change in QOL. Using the current study design, EQT did not have any effect on tumor size. EQT also does not appear to have any effect on patient QOL. Because of the small sample size and working with only one qigong practitioner, to definitively determine the efficacy or lack of efficacy of EQT, a larger study with multiple qigong practitioners would need to be conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-353
Number of pages6
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • alternative medicine
  • breast cancer
  • breast imaging
  • qigong
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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