Sleep Problems Lead to Increased Pain for Cancer Patients

Sleep trouble can lead to an increase in pain symptoms among cancer patients, new research has found.

Sleep trouble can lead to an increase in pain symptoms among cancer patients, new research has found.

According to the study results, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, more than half of the people surveyed reported trouble sleeping, with 26 percent adding that their sleep troubles were moderate or severe. These particular patients “reported significantly more fatigue, pain and depressed mood,” the findings stated.

An increase in sleeping problems was correlated to younger age and recent chemotherapy treatments, the researchers also found. A possible explanation for this result, they suggested, was that younger patients are often treated with more aggressive therapies, which could heighten the toxicity level. In addition, increased depressed mood led to higher levels of pain.

Lead author Edward J. Stepanski, chief operational officer at the Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network in Memphis, TN., and colleagues analyzed data from 11,445 cancer patients from the West Clinic, an oncology practice in Memphis. The average age of the patients was 61.5 years, with 74 percent of the group being female. About a quarter of the patients had had chemotherapy in the last 30 days.

“We believed we would find a bi-directional relationship between insomnia and pain, but instead found that trouble sleeping was more likely a cause, rather than a consequence, of pain in patients with cancer,” said Stepanski, referring to the authors’ hypothesis that the relationship between pain and sleep would be equal that was disproved with this study.

Stepanski added that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve sleep in cancer patients with insomnia, which he thinks could then decrease pain and fatigue.

To learn more about the relationship between sleep problems and breast cancer, please click here.

For more information on CBT, please click here

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