Art: Fighting Cancer Symptoms One Project at a Time

Art therapy shown to reduce pain and anxiety associated with cancer treatment.

Cancer patients who spend just one hour working on an art project can look forward to a profound reduction in pain and anxiety. That's right, pursuing an artistic hobby for only 60 minutes has been proven to decrease eight of the nine most common symptoms of cancer, as measured by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS).

It's exciting news for both art therapists and those struggling with cancer. The study, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, found that pain, tiredness, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, lack of appetite, overall well-being and shortness of breath were all susceptible to a simple art therapy session. Nausea is the only ESAS symptom that was unaffected by pursuing an art project.

Finding new and improved methods of increasing cancer patients' quality of life is an ongoing challenge that has both those struggling with the disease and their doctors investigating more and more complementary and alternative therapies. The art therapy study took place at the inpatient oncology unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

“We wanted to see if the creative process involved in making art is healing and life-enhancing,” said Judith Paice, director of the Cancer Pain Program at Northwestern Memorial and an author of the study. “Art therapy provides a distraction that allows patients to focus on something positive instead of their health for a time, and it also gives patients something they can control.”

[via Science Daily]

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