Published by
Stanford Medicine

Cancer, In the News, Patient Care, Research

Can music benefit cancer patients?

Look through my iPod and you’ll find playlists to fit just about every mood. When I want to unwind from a stressful day, one of the things I always find comfort in is music. And a new review from the Cochrane Collaboration supports the idea that music can be therapeutic, as researchers have found that listening to music can help improve the psychological and physical well-being of cancer patients.

Led by Joke Bradt, PhD, of the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the study looked at 30 clinical trials involving patients who were enrolled in music therapy or who listened to music on their own. Researchers saw an overall reduction in anxiety and pain, and an improvement in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure in cancer patients.

In a piece on NPR’s Shots, Bradt explains why music has such a positive effect on cancer patients:

So many diagnoses of cancer, as well as the treatment, come with so much psychological stress….Just experiencing the real beauty of music can give people a sense of hope. It’s like putting a blanket around somebody, but it’s an auditory blanket.

Previously: Hospital music program helps soothe patients’ “heavy hearts”
Photo by naturegeak

3 Responses to “ Can music benefit cancer patients? ”

  1. Amy Marshall Says:

    Another example of how stress is so intimately entangled with physical wellbeing – the mind-body connection continues to appear more than even just a ‘connection.’

  2. Carolyn Says:

    I’m a long-term childhood cancer survivor of Ewing’s sarcoma and I knew this years ago when I was diagnosed at age 15. I wrote the same response to an article that recently appeared on I love how researchers are just figuring out this stuff now. It totally dates me, but I brought my walkman and cassettes to many treatments and always insisted the techs give me headphones while I was in the claustrophobic MRIs. My mom endured my love for Richard Marx as we drove to each chemo and checkup. And really cheesy, I was listening to Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” when I was unhooked from my last chemo on Oct 5, 1990: “hold on for one more day and things’ll go your way.” Music was my salvation then and continues to be now.

  3. Wanna Curtis Says:

    Dear person who experience music therapy,

    Please tell me more about how it comfort you.

    I am studying and doing research.



Please read our comments policy before posting

Stanford Medicine Resources: