Music and Cancer

A diagnosis with cancer is a difficult time for patients, family, friends and the physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers sharing the news. After the diagnosis is made, and those involved have time to process the news, the time comes to determine a path for treatment. Part of that path includes finding ways those affected can move along that path in the best mental state possible. For many in this situation, turning to music is helpful.

As music is a highly personal experience, with different styles of music and different artists speaking to everyone in different ways, how people use music to improve their days with cancer is entirely up to them. What is interesting; though, is no matter the music selected, listening to and sharing music has been found to help many people better cope with treatment.

A National Institutes of Health study took a closer look at how people used music to cope with cancer, with the data yielding interesting results. The study selected people who used music regularly, during or after their illness, and who could speak in detail about how music affected their cancer journeys.

The results showed how types of music – and sounds – with the following five characteristics affected moods, mindsets and outlooks:

  • Music of Nature: This refers to sounds of nature such as birds chirping, running water and other sounds found outside the home and away from larger civilization.

Subjects of the study who benefitted from music of nature noted the sounds did not merely result in creating a tranquil environment, they produced feelings as though there was some larger force out there and that recovery through treatment produced feeling similar to nature waking up, along with a feeling of unity with nature.

Click here to listen to nature sounds.

  • Healing Music:  This is music with sounds and patterns perhaps best understood as what you would hear during meditation sessions or at a health spa.

Those in the study believed healing music directly impacted their body and healing, while others regarded the music as a means of helping them become strong enough to face the anxiety and stressors brought about by their illness. Those surveyed found this music helped the patient feel good and relax, which helps empower the body to fight the cancer.

One participant of the study said that music can’t cure anyone at all, but through music we can go into our inner selves much more easily and there we can find an incredible number of resources for curing ourselves. Music is a tool, and a good one, which helps patients get there, and healing music help people see things differently sometimes.

Click here to listen to healing music.

  • Religious Music: This refers to music that invokes spiritual and religious feelings and would include hymns, chants and other types of music such as gospel.

The study of the role of religious music showed the music helped some accept their health challenges and think of them as a test from God. They reported that this kind of music had a relaxing effect on them. For others, the music they listened to did not bring about any philosophical or theological thought, it just made them feel joy and tranquility by strengthening their faith in themselves and larger purposes.

For those in the study, reflections on how illness had strengthened their identity as believers had caused him to see themselves as a religious people with strong faith and that God was using their illness as a hardship to test their virtue, as per the Book of Job.

Click here to listen to one of many religious music channels.

  • Cheerful Music: This is music that is light and airy and creates feeling of happiness among those who listen.

One study participant diagnosed with breast cancer explained that they used  cheerful music as a coping method. The participant explained the music brought them back to a world in which they were young and in love. They stressed that this imaginary picture had, throughout the whole period of the treatment and long after it, contributed tremendously to their fight against the illness.

Click here for one of many options for cheerful music.

  • Hard and Heavy Music: This is heavy metal and rock music which is loud and aggressive in nature.

One of the problems many young cancer patients face is the feeling of losing dreams they had for their future such as family life, education and career. They may feel as though cancer has taken their dreams from them. Hard and heavy music helped participants realize that their dreams about their life were illusory, that life is full of unexpected events and that there is a lot of injustice and suffering in the world and not something specific to their cancer journey. Thinking in this way helped them relax.

Click here to listen to one of many options for hard and heavy music.

Music cannot cure, treat or prevent any type of disease, including cancer. But as the research shows, music can help people reduce anxiety and feel better mentally during treatment. And as music is personal, Comprehensive Cancer encourages you to try out some news types of music and sounds and find out which ones make you feel better. Comprehensive offers complimentary tablets in the infusion rooms and each tablet has a variety of music for patients.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for cancer, blood disorders, breast health conditions, pulmonary disease, sleep disorders, world-class clinical research and immunotherapy.  To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.


The content in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.