Sing with Us

The Psychosocial and Psychobiological Impact of Singing in Cancer Care

Sing with Us explores whether singing affects mental health, wellbeing, quality of life, and social support for people affected by cancer.

There is growing evidence of the effects of psychosocial interventions on the health and wellbeing of patients, carers, and relatives affected by cancer. Over the last 15 years, studies have demonstrated the impact of interventions including meditation, exercise, relaxation sessions, and emotional expression on mental health, quality of life, social resilience, and biomarkers including pro-inflammatory cytokines, stress hormones, growth factors, and cell response.

Sing with Us explores the psychosocial and psychobiological impact of singing in choirs led by the charity Tenovus Cancer Care. Tenovus has already established a large-scale arts-in-health programme, and previous research has shown improvements in pain, vitality, social function, depression, and overall mental health for those who took part. Working in partnership with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the London Cancer Alliance, Sing with Us is extending the understanding of the benefits of singing in choirs by examining changes in biomarkers, including stress hormones (glucocorticoids), proteins, and receptors of the immune system.

A pilot study with 193 participants revealed that a single choir session reduced stress hormones and increased levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer (see Fancourt et al. 2016). Recruitment for a new 2-year study examining the effect of singing over several months has now begun.

Project team

Daisy Fancourt, RCM (PI)
Katey Warran, RCM
Aaron Williamon, RCM
Theresa Wiseman, Royal Marsden

Partners

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
London Cancer Alliance

Project Assistants:

Saoirse Finn
Louise Jones
Kirsty Weeks

Supported by

Tenovus Cancer Care
(2016-18)

If you are interested in singing in a choir or taking part in research from home, please complete our survey:

Learn more

Fancourt D, Williamon A, Carvalho LA, Steptoe A, Dow R, & Lewis I (2016), Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers, e-Cancer Medical Science, 10 (631), 1-13 [DOI] [VIDEO].