Tai chi and qigong are forms of mind-body exercise and meditation that may help with symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatments.

Tai chi or qigong at a glance

With slow, graceful sets of body movements and controlled breathing, tai chi and qigong (pronounced “chee-gung”) are practiced to improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength and overall health. The qi (also spelled chi) is “the life energy that flows through the body’s energy pathways.”1Chia K. The difference between tai chi and qigong. Tai Chi Society. October 23, 2011. Viewed May 17, 2021. 

Tai chi and qigong both cultivate the qi by combining movement, breathing, and meditation. The forms in qigong are not as intricate as those in tai chi and do not need to be executed as precisely. Qigong forms are freer in movement and can be adapted to your manner of moving. Qigong can be carried out standing, sitting, or lying down. Tai chi involves an advanced and elaborate choreography, and the forms generally take longer to learn and master than in qigong.

Tai chi and/or qigong may improve immune system function and are linked to reduced symptoms of depression, fatigue, lymphedema, pain, sleep difficulty, and stress. These practices are also associated with a better quality of life among people with cancer. No studies to date have investigated using these practices to treat or prevent cancer.

CancerChoices ratings for tai chi or qigong

We rate tai chi or qigong on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest. We rate the strength of the evidence supporting the use of tai chi or qigong for a medical benefit, such as improving treatment outcomes or managing side effects.

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Improving treatment outcomes

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Optimizing your body terrain

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Managing side effects and promoting wellness

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Reducing cancer risk

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Use by integrative oncology experts

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Affordability and access

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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


Laura Pole, RN, MSN, 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, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: December 21, 2023

Last full literature review: May 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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