Does Music Therapy Have a Place in Your Cancer Treatment?

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Along with immunotherapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy, music therapy is one form of cancer care you may consider.

Music therapy is designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation. It doesn’t directly affect your cancer, but it can be very beneficial in coping with the disease. 

From listening to live music being played in treatment centers or using musical instruments to singing, composing or improvising music—and even moving to music—any and all of these options can help you release emotions and stress to promote relaxation. 

Let’s dive into some of the specific benefits music therapy has for cancer patients.

  1. Promote Wellbeing

You may experience nausea, flu-like symptoms or difficulty breathing from chemotherapy or anxiety, stress, fear and loneliness brought on by radiotherapy. Music can stimulate your endorphins and oxytocin, also known as the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, which help lower blood pressure and promote healthy blood flow to the heart.

  1. Stress Management

Studies have shown that music therapy lowers the stress hormone cortisol in some patients. It’s widely used in hospitals to distract from the pain that can come with chemotherapy treatments. Music therapy can help you recognize and process feelings related to stress. 

  1. Pain Alleviation

The gentle stimulus provided by music may allow you to relax better, which promotes deeper breathing and allows you to rest. Research has shown music can be a nonpharmacological method in reducing cancer patients’ pain.

  1. Physical Rehabilitation

Engaging in your favorite form of music therapy can help ease muscle tension or physical impairments brought on by trauma. When patients have difficulty processing the steps on their way to recovery, music therapy can help them cope. Dance, in particular, has been shown to be very helpful.

  1. Memory Enhancement

Music has powerful benefits on your mind and memory. Music promotes memory recall. It also increases relaxation and can inspire you to keep going on hard days.   

  1. Emotional Expression

The amygdala is the part of your brain that processes the music you hear. When stimulated, it boosts your dopamine production, reducing depression and anxiety, and also triggers biochemical stress reducers, allowing you to express your emotions more easily.  

  1. Improved Communication

Music therapy also helps to build rapport at a time when you may feel disconnected from others, allowing you to connect socially through music. In the past, this form of therapy was used most often in neurology and psychiatry in support of patients with learning disabilities and difficulties in communicating. Today we see the power of music therapists working alongside oncologists.  

More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you too, can experience the difference.

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