3 Unique Pressure Points That Reduce Cancer Symptoms

Some people perform better under pressure.

It turns out that a little bit of pressure may help relieve certain cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Acupressure — a form of massage that reportedly originated in China before the Common Era — can alleviate nausea, fatigue, pain and anxiety, research shows.

It involves applying pressure to points called acupoints throughout the body to stimulate healing. It is a form of self-massage. Even though acupressure is less widely known than acupuncture in the U.S., acupressure predates acupuncture.

Before needles were invented, ancient cultures used sharp stones for acupuncture. Before sharp stones were used, people used fingers to apply pressure to acupoints.

Most studies on acupressure and acupuncture in cancer care indicate the therapy is helpful at palliating certain symptoms.

Costs and Cancer Centers That Offer Acupressure

One of the perks of acupressure is that it can be self-administered at any time, in any location. Acupuncture requires a licensed practitioner and the use of needles, making it an invasive procedure, albeit a minimally invasive one.

Acupressure is less commonly offered in cancer centers than acupuncture, but practitioners are found throughout the country and books on acupressure teach people how to effectively self-apply the therapy.

A number of cancer centers now offer acupuncture as a complementary treatment. For example, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has offered acupuncture since 2000 and is leading the way in standardizing protocols for oncology acupuncture.

The cost of acupressure is often lower than acupuncture, especially if you take the self-taught approach. An acupressure session with a trained practitioner can cost $50 to $95, while acupuncture sessions may cost $75 to $125. Once you learn acupressure points that work for you, it is easy and free to apply the therapy yourself.

Do It Yourself

Self-administering acupressure is easy and safe for people with cancer. You’ll want to use your fingers to apply steady, prolonged pressure for at least three minutes per acupoint. Applying pressure in a circular motion may enhance effectiveness for some people.

The degree of pressure you’ll apply will vary by acupoint. You want more pressure than light touch offers, yet not too much pressure to cause bruising or pain. Acupoints that reside around developed muscle tissue will require more pressure. Some points may feel more sensitive than others; apply less pressure to sore or sensitive points. You can apply pressure for as long as you want to control symptoms such as nausea, pain or anxiety.

Ideally, you’ll want to sit or lay in a comfortable position when performing acupressure. Take several relaxing, deep breaths before you begin. Place your focus on breathing and try to relax.

Acupoint for Reducing Nausea and Vomiting

Acupoint for Nausea and Vomiting

Acupoint for Reducing Pain

Acupoint for Reducing Pain

Acupoint for Reducing Anxiety

Acupoint for Reducing Anxiety

Complication Management

Side effects and complications from acupressure are extremely rare. If someone presses too hard on the acupoint, bruising can occur. That may happen more easily for people undergoing chemotherapy.

While studies have proven the benefit of acupressure and acupuncture for cancer patients, there are no standardized protocols for how to use the therapy for specific symptoms.

Different practitioners may use different acupoints to treat the same symptom, which could be further studied to see which points work best for various symptoms. Acupressure could play a more prominent role in the future of integrative cancer care as promising research continues to surface.

For those of you interested in reading more about the research on acupoints and acupressure, here is a list of specific conditions and the studies done on how to relieve those symptoms:

Get Your Free Alternative Treatment Guide

Free information about alternative mesothelioma treatment, books, support, wristbands & more.

Get Your Free Guide


Nausea and Vomiting



Article Sources

  1. Agarwal, A., Ranjan, R., Dhiraaj, S., Lakra, A., Kumar, M., & Singh, U. (2005). Acupressure for prevention of pre-operative anxiety: A prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study. Anaesthesia, 60(10):978-981. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2005.04332.x
  2. Alimi, D, Rubino, C, Pichard-Léandri, E, Fermand-Brulé, S, Dubreuil-Lemaire, ML, & Hill, C. (2003). Analgesic effect of auricular acupuncture for cancer pain: a randomized, blinded, controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology: Official Journal of the American Society of the Clinical Oncology, 21(22), 4120-6. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14615440
  3. Cancer Research UK. (2015, February 4). Acupuncture. Retrieved from http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/acupuncture
  4. Chien, T.J., Liu, C.Y., & Hsu, C.H. (2013). Integrating acupuncture into cancer care. Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine, 3(4):234-239. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.119733
  5. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer. (2015, January 29). Acupuncture for breathlessness. Retrieved from http://cam-cancer.org/CAM-Summaries/Mind-body-interventions/Acupuncture-for-breathlessness/Does-it-work
  6. Dibble, S.L., Luce, J., Cooper, B.A., Israel, J., Cohen, M., Nussey, B., & Rugo, H. (2007). Acupressure for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A randomized clinical trial. Oncology Nursing Forum, 34(4):813-820.
  7. Felhendler, D., & Lisander, B. (1996). Pressure on acupoints decreases postoperative pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 12(4):326-329.
  8. Gach, M.R. (2014). How to apply pressure to acupressure points. Retrieved from http://www.acupressure.com/articles/Applying_pressure_to_acupressure_points.htm
  9. Garcia, M.K., McQuade, J., Haddad, R., Patel, S., Lee, R., Yang, P., … & Cohen, L. (2013). Systematic review of acupuncture in cancer care: A synthesis of the evidence. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 31(7):952-960. doi:10.1200/JCO.2012.43.5818
  10. Gardani, G., Cerrone, R., Biella, C., Galbiati, G., Proserpio, E., Casiraghi, M., … Lissoni, P. (2007). A progress study of 100 cancer patients treated by acupressure for chemotherapy-induced vomiting after failure with the pharmacological approach. Minerva Medical, 98(6):665-668.
  11. Genc, F., & Tan, M. (2015). The effect of acupressure application on chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and anxiety in patients with breast cancer. Palliative & Supportive Care, 13(2):275-284. doi: 10.1017/S1478951514000248
  12. Ling, M. (2009). Acupuncture as a complementary therapy in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, 22(2):138-141.
  13. Ling, W.M., Lui, L.Y., So, W.K., & Chan, K. (2014). Effects of acupuncture and acupressure on cancer-related fatigue: A systemic review. Oncology Nursing Forum, 41(6):581-592.
  14. Lu, W., Dean-Clower, E., Doherty-Gilman, A., & Rosenthal, D.S. (2008). Acupuncture in cancer care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: An integrative medical practice. In L. Cohen & M. Markman (Eds.), Integrative oncology. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.
  15. Molassiotis, A., Helin, A.M., Dabbour, R., & Hummerston, S. (2007). The effects of P6 acupressure in the prophylaxis of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in breast cancer patients. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 15(1):3-12.
  16. Molassiotis, A., Sylt, P., & Diggins, H. (2007). The management of cancer-related fatigue after chemotherapy with acupuncture and acupressure: A randomized controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 15(4):228-237.
  17. Schroder, S., Liepert, J., Remppis, A., & Greten, J.H. (2007). Acupuncture treatment improves nerve conduction in peripheral neuropathy. European Journal of Neurology, 14(3):276-281.
  18. Song, H.J., Seo, H.J., Lee, H., Son, H., Choi, S.M., & Lee, S. (2015). Effect of self-acupressure for symptom management: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 23(1):68-78. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.11.002
  19. Tang, W.R., Chen, W.J., Yu, C.T., Chang, Y.C., Chen, C.M., Wang, C.H., & Yang, S.H. (2014). Effects of acupressure on fatigue of lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy: An experimental pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 22(4):581-591. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.05.006
  20. UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. (2015). Acupressure for beginners. Retrieved from http://exploreim.ucla.edu/wellness/acupressure-and-common-acupressure-points/
  21. White, A., & Ernst, E. (2004). A brief history of acupuncture. Rheumatology, 43(5):662-663. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keg005
  22. World Health Organization. (2003). Acupuncture: Review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/42414
  23. Yeh, C.H., Chiang, Y.C., Hoffman, S.L., Liang, Z., Klem, M.L., Tam, W.W.S., … & Suen, L.K.P. (2014). Efficacy of auricular therapy for pain management: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidenced Based Complementary Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2014/934670
  24. Yeh, C.H., Chien, L.C., Chiang, Y.C., Ren, D., & Suen, L.K. (2014). Auricular point acupressure as an adjunct analgesic treatment for cancer patients: A feasibility study. Pain Management Nursing. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2014.08.005
Get Your Free Mesothelioma Guide