Impact of Opioid Therapy on Sleep and Respiratory Patterns in Adults With Advanced Cancer Receiving Palliative Care.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
J Pain Symptom Manage, 2018, 55, (3), pp. 962-967
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CONTEXT: In advanced cancer, abnormal sleep patterns may contribute to poor quality of life, but the impact of opioid-related sleep disorders has not been explored in detail in these patients. OBJECTIVE: To document sleep and respiratory patterns in patients with cancer, receiving a range of opioids, determine factors that contribute to severity of central or obstructive apnea, and to what extent these contribute to sleep disturbance. METHODS: Adults with advanced cancer admitted to a palliative care service underwent a sleep analysis by an unattended polysomnography. Total sleep time, apnea hypopnea index, central apnea index, obstructive apnea hypopnea index, arousal index, and oxygen desaturation were measured. Baseline assessment included body habitus, Mallampati score, comorbidity indices, concomitant medications, and the Berlin questionnaire. Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Stanford Sleepiness Scale, and Wu cancer fatigue scales were documented. RESULTS: Twenty-eight patients were studied, including 25 receiving opioids. In the latter group, the apnea hypopnea index was mildly abnormal in six patients and severely abnormal in 10 patients. Central apnea index and obstructive apnea hypopnea index were abnormal in nine and 17 patients, respectively. There was no significant correlation between opioid dose and polysomnographic results. CONCLUSION: In patients with advanced cancer receiving opioid analgesia, there was a high prevalence of respiratory disturbance, both central and obstructive, and deranged sleep patterns. Addressing sleep-disordered breathing in cancer patients has the potential to improve daytime drowsiness and quality of life.
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