Both pain and anxiety are common in women that are experiencing breast cancer. Biopsies during diagnosis of breast cancer, and mastectomies and chemotherapy to treat cancer are all painful and stressful events. Breast cancer patients must deal with the fear of not being able to care for children, with changed body image, sexual rejection, recurrence, medical bills and harm from adjuvant therapies. Music therapy has been shown to lessen pain and anxiety in patients during a number of different types of surgeries and chronic disease and may have the potential to help breast cancer patients.
Method: An exhaustive literature search of available medical literature was conducted using Medline-OVID, CINAHL, EBMR Multifile, and Medline-PubMed using the keywords: breast cancer and music therapy. A search on the National Institute of Health (NIH) clinical trials site was also conducted. The bibliographies of the articles were further searched for relevant sources. The search was narrowed to include only English language articles and articles that contained primary data. Only studies that were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. All articles that described personal accounts or case studies were excluded. All studies that did not relate to anxiety and pain were also excluded. Relevant articles were assessed for quality using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE).
Results: Five studies met inclusion criteria and were included in this systematic review. The search on the National Institute of Health (NIH) clinical trials site revealed an unpublished study examining the effects of music therapy on the reduction of fatigue that was not included because the data had not been published. These studies examined music therapy’s affect on anxiety and pain in women during the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. There were three articles that addressed anxiety alone, one study that regarded only pain, and one study that evaluated both pain and anxiety.
Conclusion: The articles reviewed in this paper show that music therapy could have the potential to be a cost-effective, safe, non-pharmacologic tool for lowering pain and anxiety in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer patients.
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