Sleep disturbance is a prominent complaint of cancer patients. Most studies have focused on insomnia and cancer-related fatigue. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been reported in small studies and case reports.In a retrospective review of patients who underwent formal sleep evaluation and polysomnography (PSG) from 2006 to 2011, 56 patients with tumors in the head and neck region were identified. Clinical characteristics, sleep-related history, and PSG data were reviewed.Most patients had active cancer (80%), and the majority had squamous pathology (68%). Prominent symptoms included daytime fatigue (93%), daytime sleepiness (89%), and snoring (82%). Comorbid conditions primarily included hypertension (46%) and hypothyroidism (34%). Significant sleep-related breathing disorder was noted in 93% of patients, and 84% met clinical criteria for OSA. A male predominance (77%) was noted, and patients were not obese (body mass index <30 kg/m(2) in 52%). The majority of patients (79%) underwent radiation prior to sleep study, of which 88% had OSA, and in the group without prior radiation, 67% had OSA. Adherence to positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy was slightly better when compared with the general population. A subset of patients with persistent hypoxia despite advanced forms of PAP required tracheostomy. Multivariate analysis revealed that patients with active disease and radiation prior to PSG were more likely to have OSA.Sleep-related breathing disorder was common in patients with tumors in the head and neck region referred for evaluation of sleep disruption, and most met clinical criteria for OSA. Daytime fatigue and sleepiness were the most common complaints. OSA was prevalent in male patients, and most with OSA were not obese. Architectural distortion from the malignancy and/or treatment may predispose these patients to OSA by altering anatomic and neural factors. A heightened clinical suspicion for sleep-related breathing disorder and referral to a sleep specialist would be beneficial for patients with these complaints.
View details for DOI 10.1634/theoncologist.2014-0176
View details for Web of Science ID 000346601600017
View details for PubMedID 25273079