Ovarian Cancer Canada

Western Regional Blog – BC, YK, AB, NWT and Nunavut

Sleep Disturbances in Cancer Patients: Under Recognized and Under Treated

“Managing insomnia involves both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment. It is also important to treat the associated disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders that often accompany insomnia. Long-term management of cancer patients should not be limited to surveillance of cancer but should also involve aggressive treatment of clusters of symptoms such as insomnia, cancer-related fatigue, and pain to yield better long-term quality of life.”


Full article: http://www.ccjm.org/content/80/11/722.full#abstract-3


Sleep-related complaints are extremely common in patients with cancer but often are not recognized, and even if they are, they are seldom treated. Recognizing insomnia in cancer patients is imperative, as appropriate treatment can improve quality of life.

Key points

  • Sleep disturbances, primarily insomnia, profoundly affect all aspects of quality of life.
  • Insomnia can be caused or worsened by a number of other conditions, such as pain, fatigue, depression, and anxiety, and these in turn can be worsened by insomnia.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for chronic insomnia. Underlying problems should be addressed.
  • Drugs are often prescribed to help cancer patients sleep but should be used with caution, as there is limited information from clinical trials in this population.


This entry was posted on November 19, 2013 by in Research Updates and tagged , .

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