Music Eases Cancer Pain

Music Eases Cancer Pain

musical notes

Listening to just thirty minutes of music significantly reduced pain and distress for cancer patients.

The patients were receiving medication, but still had pain.

Music reduced pain scores by more than 50 percent for almost half of them compared to fewer than 1 in 10 similar patients who just rested in bed.

Nurses randomly assigned Taiwanese patients to listen to their choice of music for 30 minutes or to rest without music. They measured pain at the beginning and end of the time using a visual scale.

42 percent who listened to music had their pain scores fall by 50 percent or more, compared to 8 percent of those who merely rested. A statistical test showed a large effect of the music for both changes in the sensation of pain and changes in the distress patients felt.

Patient had their choice of folk songs, Buddhist hymns , or American harp and piano music. Although 7 out of 10 chose the Taiwanese music, the American music was also enjoyed and effective.

Writing in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, lead author Shih-Tzu Huang said,

Offering a choice of familiar, culturally appropriate music was a key element of the intervention. Soft music was safe, effective, and liked by participants. It provided greater relief of cancer pain than analgesics alone. Thus nurses should offer calming, familiar music to supplement analgesic medication for persons with cancer pain.

SOURCE: Huang et al, International Journal of Nursing Studies, Volume 47, Number 11, November 2010.

What This Means for Patients

Sometimes the simple things that we do intuitively prove to be effective scientifically.

In this study music was not offered instead of medication, but in addition to it.

Patients also got to choose the music that they liked from culturally appropriate choices.

This simple method may help cancer patients both in the hospital and at home.

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Posted by Kate Murphy on September 28th, 2010
Tags: cancer pain, complementary therapy


Multivitamins Don’t Raise Colon Cancer Survival, Prevent Recurrence

Taking a daily multivitamin didn’t improve survival or reduce the risk that colon cancer would come back for stage III patients enrolled in a clinical trial of chemotherapy after surgery.
Although about half of patients in the trial took a multivitamin supplement during their treatment, the vitamin didn’t improve their outcomes, nor did it reduce side effects. At the same time, multivitamin use didn’t have a detrimental effect.

Researchers asked about 1,000 patients at the end of their chemotherapy and then about 6 months later about whether they took multivitamins during their chemo or afterwards. Patients in the trial had randomly received one of two different chemos, and the trial showed no difference between the two treatments.

After about 7 years of follow-up there was no difference between patients who took multivitamins during chemotherapy and those who didn’t for cancer-free survival, recurrence, or overall survival. There was also no difference for patients who said that they took multivitamins in the months after they finished chemo.

However, multivitamins taken during chemotherapy did appear to benefit patients who were 60 years old or younger. who had about a 30 percent reduction in the risk of dying from cancer or having their colon cancer return. This difference didn’t seem to be related to family history or microsatellite instability. But taking multivitamins after chemotherapy was completed, didn’t improve outcomes for these younger patients.

Obese patients did derive benefit from multivitamin use, but those who were merely overweight actually did worse in terms of disease-free survival when they took them. In normal weight people, vitamins didn’t make a difference.

Commenting on the study, Charles Fuchs, MD, director of gastrointestinal oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the paper’s senior author, said.

This study adds to a growing body of research that questions the purported benefit of multivitamin use, and it underscores the need to investigate the use of individual vitamins, such as vitamin D, which may, in fact, provide real benefit.

Dr. Fuchs noted that most multivitamins contain a small dose of vitamin D.

Use of multivitamins during chemotherapy didn’t appear to affect side effects, with no significant differences between those who took them and those who didn’t for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or lowered white cell counts. There was less severe fatigue in multivitamin users, with 10.8 percent of the nonusers experiencing grade 3 or 4 fatigue compared to 7.4 percent of those who took vitamins.

Lead author Kimmie Ng and her colleagues concluded,

Multivitamin use during and after adjuvant chemotherapy was not significantly associated with
improved outcomes in patients with stage III colon cancer.

SOURCE: Ng et al., Journal of Clinical Oncology, Early Release, August 30, 2010.


Stars, Networks Stand Up To Cancer Tonight

Stand Up To Cancer Logo

Tonight, September 10 at 8PM Eastern/7PM Central, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX will join in a simultaneous broadcast to Stand Up to Cancer. HBO, Discovery Health, E!, MLB Network and The Style Network will also carry the show this year.

Stars from television, movies, music and sports will join cancer survivors in an effort to raise money for cancer research.

Diane Sawyer says,

The broadcast is a way of saying, ‘Together, we can do this’ And yes, we’re losing one person every minute, but 11 million survivors are out there; living proof that this can be done. It will also be an opportunity for everybody to figure out concrete ways that they can do the things that they connect to the most strongly.

100 percent of donations raised by SU2C will used for cutting-edge cancer research, including directly funding innovative, high-risk, proposals that often are not supported by conventional funding sources, but have the potential to improve the lives of cancer patients.

Nearly $75 million in funds raised during the 2008 broadcast are supporting five Dream Teams that take a collaborative approach to solving critical cancer problems. Teams include more than 300 researchers from 20 institutions as well as patient advocates.

In addition, almost $10 million is dedicated to the work of young cancer scientists doing innovative research. The SU2C Innovative Research Program was established in honor of the late Judah Folkman.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the scientific partner for SU2C, reviewing proposals and overseeing grants through its Scientific Advisory Committee.

Colorectal Cancer Coalition Chair Nancy Roach chairs the Stand Up to Cancer Advocacy Advisory Council. The Council brings the patient and family perspective to cancer issues important to the project.

The AACR-SU2C Clinical Trials Navigator will have extended hours during the broadcast and the following weekend. You can reach them at 1–877–769–4829.