New Study Finds Sound Waves Can Improve Breast Cancer Treatment

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The healing power of sound is slowly infiltrating the health care industry, with more and more medical professionals hopping on the musical bandwagon. Sound baths have long been known to have soothing effects on the emotions, and new research supports the budding theory that sound can deliver physical benefits, too.

A study published this September in the journal Scientific Reports found that sound waves can successfully release cancer-fighting drugs inside the lymph nodes of breast cancer patients. To come to this conclusion, scientists injected doxorubicin, an anti-cancer drug, into the lymph nodes of a group of mice. They then sent high-intensity sound waves to the armpit area—a region affected by breast cancer metastases (which happen when cancer cells break away from the original tumor and invade lymph nodes that can travel to other parts of the body)—and found that these sound waves were able to rupture the drug's molecules and release it inside those lymph nodes

These scientists were able to use sound waves for a more targeted drug release than if they had just injected mice with medication alone. Since these sound waves seemed to help medications rupture inside the lymph nodes themselves, they show potential to slow (and possibly prevent) the spread of breast cancer, according to this research.

"We believe that our technique has the potential to be developed into a new treatment for lymph nodes invaded by metastatic tumour cells," says leader of the study Tetsuya Kodama. Even more groundbreaking, this technique has not been shown to have any side effects, whereas traditional metastases medications are highly invasive and can have harsh side effects.

Seeing as breast cancer is responsible for the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women, this discovery could prove groundbreaking.

"You can see how this is an exciting time for music and medicine research," Alexander Pantelyat, M.D., the co-founder and co-director of the Center for Music & Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital, previously told mbg about sound's capacity to heal. "The overall sense is that alternative, non-medication-based treatments can really have a meaningful impact on people's lives, and in the case of music, may have minimal to no side effects.”

While more research and testing are necessary before sound waves are a viable aspect of breast cancer treatment on humans, it's exciting that scientists are beginning to take sound healing (and its many benefits) seriously. It looks like the future of health care is truly starting to face the music. 

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