Insomnia loss can raise risk of ovarian cancer, impact survival: Experts

New Delhi, Jun 11 (IANS): Women with sleep loss condition insomnia may be at significant risk of developing ovarian cancer, said experts on Tuesday.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult for a person to fall asleep or stay asleep.

People with the condition are also likely to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. They may continue to feel tired after waking up.

“Insomnia, commonly linked to stress and anxiety, may also play a role in the risk and survival rates of ovarian cancer patients. Research suggests that disturbed sleep patterns could heighten inflammation and weaken the immune system, potentially fostering cancer growth,” Dr. Kinjal Kothari, Associate Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Manipal Hospital, Goa, told IANS.

A recent study published in the Lancet shows that treating insomnia in high-grade ovarian cancers can improve survival. The study also proposed that treating insomnia may be able to prevent ovarian cancer.

Cancer incidence and prevalence are on a rising trend. With the trend, there is a blazing need to study the patterns of the disease and ways to improve the survival and quality of life of the patient.

“Sleep disorders are common among cancer patients. It may be a sleepless or abnormal sleep-wake cycle; probably more than half of the patients are affected. The patient's quality of life is negatively impacted,” Dr. Karthik K S, Consultant Surgical Oncology, KMC Hospital, Mangalore, told IANS.

Sleep symptoms may also be due to the psychological impact (like anxiety and depression) of the disease on the patient and the family, the doctor said.

“Patients may have sleep loss because of pain and pressure symptoms of the cancer. Side effects and complications of treatment like nausea and vomiting can also affect sleep,” Dr. Karthik said.

Dr. M.A. Raja, Director & Senior Consultant - Medical Oncology, MGM Cancer Institute, Chennai told IANS that sleep disorders, such as insomnia, are known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and negatively affect their prognosis.

“Sleep is essential for the human body, intricately involved in endocrine, metabolic, and immunoregulatory pathways, which are also implicated in various cancers. These shared pathways may account for the increased risk of sleep disturbances among cancer patients, with insomnia being the most prevalent,” the doctor said.

Moreover, insomnia often leads to poorer mental health, which can indirectly affect treatment adherence and overall well-being during cancer therapy. Understanding this connection underscores the importance of addressing sleep disturbances in cancer care.

“Developing tailored interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, could potentially improve outcomes for ovarian cancer patients by promoting better sleep and bolstering resilience against the disease,” Dr. Kinjal said.



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