Cancer patients suffer from sleep disturbances

London, Feb 26 (IANS) People with cancer significantly suffer from sleep disturbances and insomnia prior to undergoing radiotherapy treatment, finds a study.

According to researchers, sleep disturbances are linked to progression of cancer, prior treatments — chemotherapy and other psychosomatic symptoms — anxiety and fatigue.

“Insomnia-related problems were significantly higher in patients with a more severe disease, which led to higher levels of hypnotic drug intake,” said lead author Escarlata Lopez from the University of Granada in Spain.

The study, published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing magazine, evaluated 105 cancer patients based on their first appointment at the Radiotherapeutic Oncology Service.

The team analysed the impact of cancer severity, history of treatment and psychosomatic symptomatology has on sleep problems.

Sleep disturbances were assessed by means of a questionnaire which the patients themselves filled out. Secondary variables were the impact of pain on sleep, anxiety and fatigue.

The participants reported important levels of insomnia and hypersomnia — excessive tiredness during wake hours caused by a lack of sleep.

The results showed, prior chemotherapy was significantly associated with hypersomnia-related problems. Anxiety was significantly associated with both sleep-related problems — insomnia and hypersomnia.

In the light of these results, researchers warn that sleep problems within this context “must be explored and included in the patient’s clinical history in order to provide adequate guidelines to palliate said problems effects on the patient’s quality of life,” Lopez stated.

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