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Pain, dry mouth may play role in sleep quality of head and neck cancer patients
Date:7/11/2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. 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 related to radiation treatments, according to 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 may be warranted to improve sleep hygiene and enhance quality of life. Previous 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.

"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 treatment 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 found 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 treatments 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 researchers 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
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Contact: Tara Hasouris
tarahaso@umich.edu
734-734-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert  

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