Music Therapy for Cancer-Related Fatigue

The aim of music therapy for CRF is to activate the patient, who in the context of chronic exhaustion and fatigue is falling into a general tendency towards heaviness and withdrawal, by awakening, expanding and leading the person into lightness.

Depending on the patient’s degree of exhaustion, the therapeutic means should be arranged so that the patient does not become physically overwhelmed. Often the person’s desire to perform the exercises is stronger than his or her physical condition allows. That is why therapy may be provided in both receptive and active ways.

Therapeutic recommendations

  • Receptive music therapy should provide a sense of protection and warmth, perhaps played as a prelude on an alto lyre. By playing the lyre , we can introduce the patient to the archetypal nature of music, which has a special relationship to the soul. Similarly, during sleep, the soul body connects with cosmic archetypes every night anew, in order to bring them closer to the etheric body and physical body the next day. This process seems to be disturbed in cancer and especially in Cancer Fatigue Syndrome (see ).

  • In a similar way, but with an even more direct effect on the body, the patient can experience the effect of the sounds as vibration therapy while lying on a vibrating kantele couch or through having a TAO lyre placed on certain parts of his or her body, which can be releasing, broadening, relaxing and at the same time invigorating and revitalizing.

  • Bright sounds – e.g., those of a carillon – preferably played by the patient , convey an awakening gesture, which can be further supported by playing and practicing escalating rhythms.

  • Changing the configuration of polarities in tempo, dynamics and volume (perhaps while playing a drone lyre) can have a revitalizing effect and stimulate rhythmic activity: we intervene – let go – become active – relax.

  • If the patient has difficulty concentrating, good support can be provided by songs that have lyrics. Thus, in addition to the musical elements, we add content to be grasped cognitively.

  • Vocal therapy focusses more on regulating and deepening the person’s breathing , which is often shallow in people who have CFS.

Singing specific growing intervals or upward steps of the scale can enlarge the tonal space that is to be animated. For patients who are not too exhausted, it is advisable to walk and move these intervals or tonal steps in the room so that they can experience concrete, even external, mobilization. For example, the patient can step forward with each new note when singing certain vowels on a scale (concordances), this can then be accelerated in tempo or certain tonal steps can be combined to form motifs.

Research news

Anthroposophic Medicine is an evaluated part of CRF treatment   
Cancer-realted fatigue (CRF) is one of the most frequent and prevalent symptoms expressed by cancer patients and cancer survivors. A current systematic review aimed to identify different clinical evaluation scales and interventions available for fatigue associated with cancer. Therefore, 2611 research articles were screened and revealed also non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise, complementary therapies, nutritional and psychoeducational interventions, sleep therapy, Anthroposophic Medicine, and various pharmacological agents effective in managing CRF. The results are published open access:
Supplementary note: The impact of misteltoe therapy in CRF has been evaluated by a research group at Havelhöhe Community Hospital:

Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine