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Music Therapy and Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and nearly 38.4 % of all men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetimes. The earliest recorded case of a cancer-type disease dates back to 3000 BC in an Egyptian book on surgery. Although cancer research has been going on since the 19th century, a cure has yet to be developed. Although, numerous treatments have been developed in order to increase a patient’s chances of survival, there is not yet a definitive cure for cancer. The treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and numerous kinds of surgery. Although these may be beneficial in the long run, they have several side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and many other effects which could end up reducing quality of life. However, one form of treatment with little to no side effects is that of music therapy.


Music therapy is a form of therapy involving the playing, listening, singing, or dancing with music. According to Cancer Research UK, music therapy provides a safe environment for those living with cancer to explore numerous emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, rage, and a variety of other emotions which sprout as a result of living with cancer. Other studies also show that music therapy for children with cancer can help motivate them and help them cooperate and communicate with others. Additionally, a 2001 British study on 29 cancer patients showed that after music therapy treatment, they felt better in general while the researchers found that their immune systems had improved and the hormone that causes stress, cortisol, was found in less abundance. Furthermore, in 1991, a Utah study involving 15 cancer patients found that patients who were taking pain killers were told to instead participate in numerous music therapy sessions over the course of 6 days. After the 6 days, scientists recorded an astounding 47% decrease in pain in the patients. More information can be found on breastcancer.org. In conclusion, while there are numerous methods of treating the terrible disease that is cancer, few share the same level of success along with the lack of side effects as music therapy.

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