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Medicineworld.org: Quality of sleep in head and neck cancer patients

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Quality of sleep in head and neck cancer patients




Head and neck cancer patients who reported poor sleep quality one year after diagnosis had more symptoms of chronic pain and complaints of dry mouth correlation to radiation therapys, as per a recent study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Because these side effects can be controlled or modified, the study suggests that reducing these factors in head and neck cancer patients appears to be warranted to improve sleep hygiene and enhance quality of life. Prior U-M studies have shown that head and neck cancer patients who reported lower physical quality of life were more likely to die from their disease.



Quality of sleep in head and neck cancer patients
Sleeping Woman

"Sleep disturbances are a common complaint in head and neck cancer patients and have been shown to decrease quality of life, decrease mental health and serve as a predictor of other complications in the therapy of the cancer. They can also negatively affect the immune system and the ability to deal with stresses of the diagnosis," says senior study author Jeffrey Terrell, M.D., professor of otolaryngology at the U-M Medical School.

The study observed that a tracheotomy, depression and younger age also adversely affected sleep in patients.

"While cancer patients in general have been known to have decreased sleep quality, head and neck cancer patients may have unique issues such as facial disfigurements and side effects from therapys that can affect the mouth and throat. These problems may thereby contribute to breathing problems which can impede sleep," says study author Sonia A. Duffy, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of nursing at the U-M School of Nursing and otolaryngology at the U-M Medical School and research scientist at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The scientists surveyed 457 people at three otolaryngology clinics who had been recently diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Participants responded to questions about their physical and emotional quality of life, including pain, sleep health, eating and respiratory problems. The subjects were then surveyed again one year after diagnosis.

Among those surveyed, it was observed that sleep quality did not change dramatically from the time of diagnosis to one year after therapy. But quality of sleep at both time points was worse than typical sleep scores for the average person. The scientists suggest that the relatively minor change in sleep quality one year after diagnosis appears to be due to symptoms and side effects from therapys such as surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy.

Results of the study currently appear in the online version of the journal The Laryngoscope
"Head and neck cancer patients have a high prevalence of pain in comparison to other cancer sites and pain is linked to insomnia. Pain is often correlated with depression among cancer patients, and the majority of depressed patients report some sleep disturbances," says Terrell. "Additionally, radiation treatment to treat head and neck cancer can contribute to dry mouth, which requires excessive drinking and urination throughout the night".

Based on their findings, the study authors recommend intensity-modulated radiation treatment techniques that treat head and neck cancer but avoid destroying saliva-producing glands, a practice that U-M specializes in. This method significantly reduces the severity of permanently dry mouth, which can be a significant complication of radiation to treat head and neck cancer.

The scientists also note the importance of recognizing depression during or after head and neck cancer therapy. Given the high occurence rate of dry mouth as a side effect of certain drugs that treat depression, doctors should carefully consider which medications appears to be better tolerated when treating these ailments among head and neck cancer patients.

"It's imperative for patients to work with physicians to determine a cause of the sleep disorder. This is particularly important given that the targeted therapy of sleep disorders is likely to improve sleep quality and therefore improve quality of life," Duffy says.


Posted by: Sue    Source




Did you know?
Head and neck cancer patients who reported poor sleep quality one year after diagnosis had more symptoms of chronic pain and complaints of dry mouth correlation to radiation therapys, as per a recent study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Because these side effects can be controlled or modified, the study suggests that reducing these factors in head and neck cancer patients appears to be warranted to improve sleep hygiene and enhance quality of life. Prior U-M studies have shown that head and neck cancer patients who reported lower physical quality of life were more likely to die from their disease.

Medicineworld.org: Quality of sleep in head and neck cancer patients

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