How do experts use acupressure? - CancerChoices

Acupressure involves applying pressure on specific places on your body to relieve several side effects of cancer and cancer treatments.

How do experts use acupressure?

Both medical groups and integrative experts provide recommendations for acupressure in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations: Integrative Oncology Programs and Expert Guidelines ›

Clinical practice guidelines

International Trustworthy Traditional Chinese Medicine Recommendations (TCM Recs) Working Group

Acupuncture for cancer pain: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline ›

A weak recommendation for the combination treatments with acupuncture/acupressure to reduce pain intensity, decrease the opioid dose, and alleviate opioid-related side effects in moderate to severe cancer pain patients who are using analgesics

National Comprehensive Care Network

Two guidelines mention use of acupressure among people with cancer.

NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Nausea and Vomiting Version 1.2016 ›

The version 1.2016 guidelines for nausea and vomiting state that acupressure is a complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapy used to treat nausea and vomiting.

NCCN Guidelines for Patients®: Survivorship Care for Cancer-Related Late and Long-Term Effects, 2020 ›

NCCN guidelines for survivorship care include acupressure as a therapy for myofascial pain.

Society for Integrative Oncology

Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment ›

This set of guidelines has been endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).1Lyman GH, Greenlee H et al. Integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment: ASCO endorsement of the SIO clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2018 Sep 1;36(25):2647-2655.

The 2017 Society for Integrative Oncology clinical practice guidelines regarding breast cancer patients states that acupressure can be considered as an addition to antiemetic drugs to control nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy.

Integrative Medicine for Pain Management in Oncology: Society for Integrative Oncology—ASCO Guideline ›

Researchers from these organizations came to consensus on these recommendations:

  • Acupressure may be offered to patients experiencing pain during systemic therapy for cancer treatment (moderate recommendation).
  • Acupressure may be offered to patients experiencing chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy from cancer treatment (weak recommendation).

Integrative oncology care of symptoms of anxiety and depression in adults with cancer: Society for Integrative Oncology–ASCO Guideline ›

Inconclusive evidence to make recommendations for or against acupressure to improve anxiety symptoms in people with cancer regardless of when in the course of care

Management of Fatigue in Adult Survivors of Cancer: ASCO–Society for Integrative Oncology Guideline Update ›

During cancer treatment: no recommendation for or against acupressure to reduce the severity of cancer-related fatigue

After cancer treatment: conditional recommendation for acupressure to manage symptoms of cancer-related fatigue

Published protocols, programs, and approaches

Acupressure is used in programs, approaches and protocolsa package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and practices into a cohesive design for care from these integrative oncologists, drawing from both scientific research and observations from years or even decades of treating people with cancer.

Keith Block, MD

Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

The integrative Block Program has recommendations to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:

  • Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
  • Those in treatment
  • Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence

Other recommendations

Chinese medicine clinical service

Development of evidence-based Chinese medicine clinical service recommendations for cancer palliative care using Delphi Approach based on the evidence to decision framework ›

A survey of experts indicated a positive consensus to recommend acupressure for reducing fatigue among palliative cancer patients.

Integrative oncology review

Abrams DI, Weil A, editors. Integrative Oncology, Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. 2014.

This book by integrative medicine experts and CancerChoices advisors Donald Abrams, MD, and Andrew Weil, MD, desribes a wide variety of complementary interventions to conventional cancer care, including a chapter from the perspective of a cancer patient.

Abrams & Weil discuss acupressure’s benefit for nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Traditional medicine

Acupressure is based on acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine therapy. A recommendation for use of acupressure by a Chinese medicine clinical service is included above on this page.

Learn more about traditional medicine and how to find a practitioner: Finding Integrative Oncologists and Other Practitioners ›

Other expert assessments

Current Oncology Reports

An expert review of evidence suggests that acupressure “might have a potential role in alleviating cancer-related fatigue.”2David A, Hausner D, Frenkel M. Cancer-related fatigue-is there a role for complementary and integrative medicine? Current Oncology Reports. 2021 Nov 7;23(12):145.

Keep reading about acupressure


Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher


Dr. Ryan served as a research associate for CancerChoices. She is a licensed and board certified naturopathic physician and acupuncturist in Oregon. Dr. Ryan is the founder of Gentle Natural Wellness, a clinic specializing in bridging classical Chinese medicine with naturopathic medicine to provide individualized, compassionate care for people in the community. A Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Master of Science in Oriental Medicine with honors from the National University of Natural Medicine, research in medical anthropology at the University of Hawai’i and George Mason University, language and culture programs at Obirin University (Tokyo) and Sogang University (Seoul), and studies of Chinese herbal medicine and qigong in China have provided a diverse background that has helped form a foundation for her community health and healing path.

Emily Ryan, ND, MSOM, LAc Research Associate

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: May 29, 2024

Last full literature review: September 2021

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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