The Importance of Music Therapy for Cancer Patients

The importance of this paper is that it focuses on how music therapy in cancer care focuses on “both physiological and psychological needs arising from the disease as well as from side-effects of cancer treatment”. It indicates that music therapy is introduced to relieve symptoms such as anxiety and pain, side effects of chemo and radiation therapy. Other aspects affected by music include relaxation, mood disturbances and the quality of life. The data provided to show how music is used to better the lives of patients during cancer treatments and the examples found to do so are through the use of two music therapy categories.

The first is called interactive music therapy techniques. This technique would include instrumental improvisation and singing while the second is receptive music therapy techniques which would include listening to recorded or live music, music and imaginary. These music therapy techniques can be used to improve mood, decrease stress, pain, anxiety level and enhance relaxation. The first example of these receptive music therapy techniques was seen when a patient is undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In the case of chemotherapy, the patient will have some side effects that can range from nausea, difficulty in breathing, and many flu-like symptoms. For radiotherapy, the patient can feel experience anxiety, fear, stress, or sense of loneliness.

The paper states that “listening to recorded music while receiving those forms of treatment can help take patients’ minds away from the discomfort caused by the treatment and help them cope with high levels of stress, fear and loneliness.” In the case of interactive music therapy techniques, the use of instruments for improvisation can help patients “improve their communication and self-expression.” Playing instruments can help patients feel a sense of control, as they play an active role in creating the sounds and in setting the rhythm and mood. The paper states that “music therapy cancer treatment program also consists of relaxation techniques with music. Relaxation techniques ease side effects for cancer patients in treatment. Learning how to relax as they undergo a variety of hard-to-tolerate cancer treatments helps them cope with symptoms such as tension, anxiety, depression, nausea and pain.”

In another research study called “The Effects of Interactive Music Therapy on Hospitalized Children with Cancer: A Pilot Study,” the study explains in further detail about the effectiveness of interactive music therapy in reducing anxiety and increasing the comfort of hospitalized children with cancer. The study was measured by pre-and post-musical therapy measurements. They had 65 participants including children and parents. The measurement of the study was done in three parts, children rating using schematic faces, parents rating their child’s performance, and a questionnaire given to children, parents, and staff.

The results of the study found that there was an improvement in the children’s rating of their feelings from pre-to-post music therapy treatment. There was an improvement of activity of the child’s performance, but only of specific ages. Overall there was a positive impact of music therapy on the patients. Another study about music therapy used to help cancer patients is called “Music Therapy to Reduce Pain and Anxiety in Children With Cancer Undergoing Lumbar Puncture: A Randomized Clinical Trial”. The study explains the painful procedures that children with cancer have to experience.

The main idea that the article introduces is if a” nonpharmacological method such as music medicine can be an alternative and influence pain and anxiety when a child with cancer undergoing lumbar punctures.” The study does a test and uses 40 children between the ages of seven and twelve who have leukemia followed by interviews in twenty of the participants. The participants were put into randomly assigned music groups and controlled groups, each group divided equally into twenty. The study states that “the primary outcome was pain scores and the secondary was heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation measured before, during, and after the procedure. Anxiety scores were measured before and after the procedure.” The end results of the conducted interview were that “lower pain scores and heart and respiratory rates in the music group during and after the lumbar puncture. The anxiety scores were lower in the music group both before and after the procedure.” The overall result of the study was that those that listened to music during the procedure had a more positive experience than those that didn’t.

I know someone who has a rare case of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She had a stroke and it caused speech loss and created difficulty walking. She underwent a rehabilitation therapy and one approach they used with her was music. After being rehabilitated she continued taking music sessions provided by the hospital until she was discharged and was informed she was in complete remission. She would tell me about the positive impact her music sessions were and helping her decrease stress, pain, anxiety and improve her mood. Proof that music therapy helped her overcome obstacles and was an agent of positive help in her life.

The history of music therapy gives us a glimpse of the purpose of its creation. It was initially used to help soldiers after the war. It soon became widely known and it became clear that there was more that people could do with music therapy. Music therapy to help cancer patients, primarily children with cancer, is a profession that keeps expanding. Studies and articles point to the conclusion that music therapy has been proven to successful to help children with cancer. The techniques used to help children will hopefully keep expanding and improving with the hope to keep assisting cancer patients and improving their lives.  

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