Scientists analysed evidence from almost 2,000 patients taking part in 30 trials.
Some simply listened to pre-recorded music while others had controlled experience sessions with trained music therapists.
Compared with standard treatments, music significantly reduced clinical anxiety scores, said the Cochrane Library researchers.
Music was also found to improve mood and help control pain, but it had no impact on depression.
Some trials reported much bigger benefits than others.
“The evidence suggests that music interventions may be useful as a complementary treatment to people with cancer,” said lead researcher Dr Joke Bradt, from Drexel University in Philadelphia, US.
“Music interventions provided by trained music therapists as well as listening to pre-recorded music have both shown positive outcomes in this review, but at this time there is not enough evidence to determine if one intervention is more effective than the other.
“It should be noted, however, that when patients can’t be blinded to an intervention, there is an opportunity for bias when they are asked to report on subjective measures like anxiety, pain, mood and quality of life.”
The Cochrane Library publishes systematic reviews of existing research in order to guide health policy.