One of the most interesting applications of music therapy is in cancer treatment. Music therapy cancer treatments are very helpful to a wide variety of patients who suffer from a large range of cancers. While music therapy cancer treatments don’t actually affect the disease itself – meaning that the tumor will not show any physical signs of improvement – the treatments and therapies will greatly affect the mood of the patient, and sometimes that can make all the difference in the way the patient deals with and feels about the disease.
The American Cancer Society has published several articles about the benefits of music therapy cancer treatments. One from 2004 discusses some of the more specific research done on cancer patients who have received music therapy. The music therapy cancer treatments used were diverse, as were the types of cancers that the patients suffered from. Most of the patients in the study suffered from multiple myeloma, Hodgkin disease, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The reason the study chose to work with these particular cancer patients is because they were undergoing typical medical cancer treatments like autologous stem cell transplant and high-dose chemotherapy. These treatments are exceptionally rigorous on the patient, causing symptoms like anorexia, fevers, and fatigue. But more than these problems, most intense are the emotional rigors of the treatments. These were the symptoms that were best helped by the music therapy cancer treatments.
The music treatments commonly used to treat cancer patients are varied; however, most patients in this study received music therapy in the form of live music played by a trained music therapist. The results of the music therapy cancer treatments in this particular study were fascinating.
According to the researchers, patients reported a great improvement in mood. The more anxious patients reported a lessening of their anxiety symptoms. Meanwhile, patients who were experiencing other mood-lowering symptoms like depression reported having an overall elevated mood.
Because of all of the positive results from the multiple successful music therapy cancer treatments used all over the country, music therapy is now offered in many hospitals. There are more therapies than just the live music therapy discussed above. Some patients have used music therapy cancer treatments like music activities.
Music activities – often involving writing song lyrics or playing an instrument – have been shown to greatly decrease anxiety in cancer patients. Of course, as with all types of therapy, these music therapy cancer treatments should be done with the help of a trained music therapist. Music therapists work with the individual patient to find the best therapies for that patient.