Relaxing acupressure resulted in significant improvement in persistent fatigue, sleep quality, and quality of life among survivors of breast cancer, a study published in JAMA Oncology has shown.1

Fatigue, which can be debilitating, is frequently experienced as a late-term effect of breast cancer often associated with reduced sleep and poorer quality of life. Despite its prevalence, limited therapies exist for persistent fatigue. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the efficacy of 2 types of self-administered acupressure compared with usual care for improving fatigue, sleep, and quality of life.

For the single-blind, phase 3 trial, investigators enrolled 288 survivors of stage 0 to III breast cancer who had completed cancer therapies at least 12 months prior to being screened. Participants were randomly assigned 1:1:1 to receive relaxing acupressure, stimulating acupressure, or usual care. Acupressure was performed daily for 6 weeks.

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Results showed that at week 6, 66.2% of patients who performed relaxing acupressure, 60.9% of those who had stimulating acupressure, and 31.3% who had usual care had achieved normal fatigue levels per the Brief Fatigue Inventory score. At week 10, 56.3%, 60.9%, and 30.1%, respectively, continued to have normal fatigue. There was no significant difference in fatigue levels between the 2 acupressure groups at either time point.

The study further demonstrated that patients in the relaxing acupressure group exhibited significant improvements in sleep quality vs those in the usual care group at week 6, but not at week 10. Relaxing acupressure also significantly improved quality of life compared with usual care at both time points.

The findings suggest that relaxing acupressure is a potential low-cost strategy for managing burdensome symptoms among breast cancer survivors.


1. Zick SM, Sen A, Wyatt GK, Murphy SL, Arnedt T, Harris RE. Investigation of 2 types of self-administered acupressure for persistent cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer survivors. JAMA Oncol. 2016 Jul 7. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.1867. [Epub ahead of print]