Bring Tunes to Skin Cancer Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer goes better when patients listen to music

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Undergoing a long skin cancer surgery while awake could make anyone anxious. Why not put on a pair of earphones and jam out to help pass the time and calm the nerves?

A recent study tested whether listening to music during a lengthy Mohs skin cancer surgery would help reduce anxiety levels. The study’s findings showed patients who listened to the music of their choice during the surgery had lower levels of anxiety than patients who did not listen to music.

The authors noted that it was cost effective to manage anxiety by having patients bring a headset to skin cancer surgery.

"Bring music to skin cancer surgery."

Vasanop Vachiramon, MD, from Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, was the lead author of the study investigating the use of music to lower anxiety in patients undergoing Mohs surgery.

Mohs micrographic surgery is used to treat skin cancer. This precise surgical technique has a 98 percent success rate for removing basal and squamous cell carcinomas. With melanomas, special stains are used to highlight melanoma cells during the Mohs procedure.

During the Mohs procedure, the surgeon evaluates each layer of thin tissue with a microscope focused on the cancer site, so that only the removal of cancerous cells is achieved. This careful and calculated surgical process allows for the preservation of as many healthy cells as possible.

In the study background, the authors discussed the stress involved in undergoing a Mohs surgery, which often causes anxiety in patients.

For this study, 100 patients with skin cancer had a Mohs surgical procedure. Half of the patients were allowed to pick out and listen to music, while the other half had the surgery in silence. Each patient was evaluated for stress and anxiety before and after the surgery.

Before the surgery, both groups reported similar anxiety levels at assessment. After the surgery, the music listening group scored 18 percent lower on the anxiety scale.

The authors concluded, “Listening to self-selected music reduces anxiety in patients undergoing Mohs micrographic surgery, especially those who undergo Mohs surgery for the first time. Presenting patients with the opportunity to listen to music is a simple strategy to minimize anxiety during Mohs micrographic surgery.”

Based on previous research, the authors suggested that selecting the music for patients would not work as well as allowing the patients to select the music for themselves.

Prompting patients to bring music to listen to during lengthy skin cancer surgery can help pass the time and lower anxiety levels during and after surgery.

This study was published in January in Dermatologic Surgery.

No financial information was provided. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 31, 2013
Last Updated:
January 31, 2013