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New Study Suggests Music May Offer Relief from Mesothelioma Pain

Relief from mesothelioma pain with music

There is new evidence that listening to music might offer some relief from mesothelioma pain and fatigue.

A new study in the European Journal of Cancer Care details a 6-month experiment on the effects of music on cancer pain, anxiety, and fatigue. 

Cancer patients listened to music at home five times a week. The results show that many of them started to feel better after just six weeks.

Finding Relief from Mesothelioma Pain

Pain is a common symptom of malignant mesothelioma, especially as the disease progresses. Patients with pleural mesothelioma have cancer on the lining around their lungs. These patients may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain.

Patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have cancer on the lining of the abdomen. These patients may need relief from mesothelioma pain in their gut. Gastrointestinal issues and bloating are also common in advanced peritoneal mesothelioma.

Radiation and/or medication may offer some relief from mesothelioma pain. But the new study suggests that music may be a less invasive, easier, and less expensive alternative.

Music for Cancer Pain, Anxiety and Fatigue

The news comes from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan. Sixty breast cancer patients were randomly assigned to receive either home-based music intervention (HBMI) or to listen to ambient music and natural sounds. 

The 30 patients in the HBMI group listened to 30 minutes of music at home on an mp3 player five times a week. Patients could pick from several types of music. The control group did not have music pieces to listen to.

The results for the HBMI group after six months are a hopeful sign that relief from mesothelioma pain can be simple and inexpensive.

“HBMI instantaneously reduced physical and mental fatigue,” write the researchers. 

After six weeks, patients reported a five-point drop in symptom severity. At 12 weeks, they saw a seven-point drop. By six months, the severity of their symptoms had dropped by nearly nine points. Pain and fatigue levels also continued to improve over the course of the experiment.

The HBMI patients said that the music also helped them distance themselves from their negative thoughts about cancer. 

HBMI “significantly reduced symptom severity, pain intensity, overall fatigue, general fatigue, emotional fatigue and vigour,” states the summary. 

In contrast, the patients who only listened to the ambient music continued to feel worse over time.

The Bottom Line for Mesothelioma Patients

There is no cure for mesothelioma. Relief from mesothelioma pain is a major focus of treatment. Patients who are in less pain tend to stay more positive, have a better quality of life, and may even be more receptive to therapy. This study suggests that music may help.

Unfortunately, the improvements seen with HBMI did not last long term. Cancer symptoms began to worsen again after six months. 


Feng-Chi, H, et al, “Effect of home‐based music intervention versus ambient music on breast cancer survivors in the community: A feasibility study in Taiwan”, June 5, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1111/ecc.13064

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