Clinical Corner - January 2024

Often in this column, I discuss updates relating to specific malignancies that are collected in our cancer registries. Interventions that are frequently not codified are specific integrative medical strategies that are employed along with surgical, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Along with these conventional approaches, music may be an effective therapeutic tool during cancer treatment to improve patient psychological and physical well-being.

Current research shows the positive effect of music on psychological outcomes; however, many of these studies lacked significant sample size and rigor in monitoring type of music used and duration of music use during treatment. A recent study included 750 patients receiving outpatient chemotherapy infusion. Patients were randomly assigned to either music (listen to music for up to 60 minutes) or control (no music) conditions. Music patients were allowed to self-select music from a single genre (e.g., Motown, 60s, 70s, 80s, classical, and country). Outcomes were self-reported change in pain, positive and negative mood, and distress.

Patients who listened to self-selected music during infusion showed significant benefit in improved positive mood and reduced negative mood and distress (but not pain) from pre- to post-intervention. The results indicated that music medicine is a low-touch, low-risk, and cost-effective way to manage patients' psychological well-being in the often-stressful context of a cancer infusion clinic. The authors suggested that future research should be directed to understanding what other factors may mitigate negative mood states and pain for certain groups during treatment.

Music as well as other integrative oncology technics may be important therapeutic initiatives to collect in our registries.