Poor quality of sleep because of pain and dry mouth problems, aftermaths of radiation treatments, is what head and neck cancer patients suffer from, states a new study.
According to University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center expert Jeffrey Terrell, sleep disturbances in head and neck cancer patients can also negatively affect the immune system and the ability to deal with stresses of the diagnosis.
The study found that a tracheotomy, depression and younger age also adversely affected sleep in patients.
Head and neck cancer patients have unique problems like facial disfigurements and side effects from treatments that can affect the mouth and throat - contributing to breathing problems that can impede sleep.
The researchers suggest using techniques that avoid destroying saliva-producing glands, a practice that U-M specializes in.
"It's imperative for patients to work with physicians to determine a cause of the sleep disorder. This is especially important given that the targeted treatment of sleep disorders is likely to improve sleep quality and therefore improve quality of life," said Sonia A. Duffy.
Results of the study currently appear in the online version of the journal The Laryngoscope.