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Music Therapy and Childhood Cancer


Researched and Written by Brielle Odom, KEYS Program intern, Spring 2023.



Music therapy is often used to treat childhood cancer. Cancer in childhood can sometimes

look different then cancer in adulthood. One main difference is the types of cancer that

emerge during childhood. The main types include:

● Leukemia

● Brain and spinal cord tumors

● Neuroblastoma

● Wilms tumor

● Lymphoma (including both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin)

● Rhabdomyosarcoma

● Retinoblastoma

● Bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma) (cancer.org)





Music therapy has proven to be very successful in helping people with cancer. Music

therapy can help alleviate symptoms such as:

● Anxiety

● Depression

● Stress and distress

● Fatigue

● Pain

● Reduce blood pressure

● Help improve coordination, mobility, and endurance


● Benefit the nervous system and immune function (mskcc.org)


It can also have positive effects on “improving memory, enhancing communication and

self-expression, and promoting physical rehabilitation for people with cancer” (cancer.net)





There are so many ways music therapy can be implemented for cancer patients. Some

common ways might be lyric analysis, music listening, song-writing, music assisted

relaxation, as well as many others. Music therapy can also just provide a quality of life

experience for cancer patients if that’s what they need. The main thing about music

therapy is that it is really tailored to the client. No two sessions will ever look the same.

Every client will bring their own unique personalities to a session. Music therapy is there

to provide whatever a client needs in that moment, which makes it such a great way to help those with childhood cancer!


For more information about the music therapy programs offered by the KEYS Program and how you can receive music therapy, as a member of the KEYS family, for FREE through grant funding check out our website keysprogram.org or send an email to info@thekeysprogram.org







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