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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 18:06 GMT
Music therapy for cancer patients
A cancer scan can be very traumatic
By BBC Health Correspondent Neil Bennett

Relaxation techniques using breathing exercises and music are helping to ease the misery of hot flushes suffered by women with breast cancer.

Early results of a trial being run by the Institute of Cancer Research show a reduction of 30% in the symptoms which can be a debilitating side effect of treatment.

I actually do also think there is a physiological effect of relaxation

Sister Debbie Fenlon
Interest is growing in the wider use of music and relaxation therapy in the treatment of cancer.

Sister Debbie Fenlon, of the Institute, believes this type of therapy may have wider use in cancer treatment.

"There are reductions in levels of pain and nausea in people who have had chemotherapy.

"Partly it is matter of people beginning to take control back into their own hands, that they are not just at the mercy of the treatments they are undergoing.

"But I actually do also think there is a physiological effect of relaxation, so that there is something that is going on in the brain that helps to stabilise people."

Rock guitarist

Among those using his musical talents to help people cope with their cancer is rock guitarist Dave Lamb, who worked with blues legend John Lee Hooker in the 1960s.

We used synthesiser noises very similar to the scanner noises so you became accustomed before your scan to those sounds

Dave Lamb
Dave now composes music as therapy - his first work was aimed specifically at people going for their first MRI scan.

"The music was designed to make you feel like you were in a large space rather than a small space.

"We used synthesiser noises very similar to the scanner noises so you became accustomed before your scan to those sounds."

It seems to work. One of the companies which supplies and runs MRI scanners for the NHS sends Dave Lamb's CD to all patients before their appointment.

Amanda Carroll, of Lodestone Patient Care, says most report reduced anxiety and in one case there was remarkable progress

"Our most successful example was a patient who attended at another MRI centre, and actually had to have a general anaesthetic before they could complete the MRI examination.

"But with the relaxation track the patient was able to complete the MRI examination without any form of sedation at all."

Dave Lamb has extended his repertoire and is writing music to help patients recover from their treatment.

Pip Gould was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and had a hysterectomy. She had been married for a year and knew she would never had children.

"I was using music to help me relax and sleep at night because I felt that as soon as I closed my eyes my head filled with all sorts of sadness and frustration."

The BBC's Neil Bennett
"Women with breast cancer report a reduction in the side effects of treatment"
See also:

16 Nov 00 | Health
Music therapy 'helps dementia'
02 Apr 01 | Health
Mozart 'can cut epilepsy'
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