Is Music the New Cancer Cure?

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Cancer therapy is a gold mine these days of health breakthroughs (it really is), as we learn more and more how to challenge the disease and improve quality of life. A new study has unearthed evidence that may be music to the ears of a cancer patient.

Researchers found that such patients may benefit from sessions with trained music therapists or from simply listening to music. A new review of evidence shows that using the power of song and rhythm could reduce anxiety in cancer patients. It may also have positive effects on mood, pain, and quality of life. These are of critical importance when someone is spending their energy battling the disease.

Music and music therapy are widely used in clinical settings. Treatments range from patients listening to pre-recorded music, to music therapists engaging patients in music experiences to improve psychological and physical well-being. Music is considered beneficial, particularly for psychological issues.

In the current study, researchers focused on trials with cancer patients of any kind, who were offered music or music therapy sessions. They analyzed evidence from about 1,900 patients in 30 studies. Thirteen of them involved trained music therapists, while in the other 17 trials, patients listened to pre-recorded music. How long and how often patients participated in music sessions varied greatly among trials.

Results show that, compared to standard treatments, music reduced anxiety considerably. Some studies had very significant beneficial effects. The results also suggest that music therapy may increase patients’ quality of life. There was some benefit in music for mood and pain, although not depression. Smaller beneficial effects were seen for heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.

What it shows is that music is a very useful complementary treatment for cancer patients. Music interventions provided by trained music therapists and listening to pre-recorded music both showed positive outcomes in this review. Living with cancer is a tremendous challenge, and it can exert a huge toll on someone’s psyche. Using music in whatever way works for each patient is a solid step in improving quality of life and reducing the often-crippling anxiety that can come with a cancer diagnosis.