Music could also act as a pleasant distraction that will make patients think of something other than illness.
The study, led by Dr. Feng-Chi Hsieh of the Department of Radiology, at Yuan General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, divided 60 cancer patients into two groups.
Music therapy helps patients with cancer
Half of them listened to music at home from an MP3 player provided by the study group and could choose between classical, traditional, contemporary and religious Taiwanese music.
The rest of the patients received an MP3 player as well, but could only opt for ambient sounds, which had previously been shown to have no effect.
The women evaluated the severity of 25 different symptoms on a five-point scale before their surgery and again after 6, 12 and 24 weeks.
The mean score of the group that tested music therapy decreased by five points after six weeks, by seven points after 12 weeks and by almost 9 points after 24 weeks.
The pain and fatigue scores dropped after 6 weeks, but stopped there.
In contrast, the scores of the second group increased and remained higher since the start of the test.
The noticeable decrease in symptoms in the music therapy group may be due to the fact that music produces positive emotions.
Patients said music helped their physical and psychological well-being by moving them away from negative thoughts related to cancer.
The authors of the study characteristically stated: “In short, listening to music can even temporarily relieve patients of the pain they feel and bring them joy.”
“With health care services becoming more expensive on a daily basis, home music therapy can also be used at no cost and give patients a positive boost,” the researchers conclude.