Transcript for "Sleep Disorders" Video - Summer 2007

From M. D. Anderson Cancer Newsline
Date: Summer, 2007
Duration: 04:34

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(Music)

Narrator:
When Shirley Moore was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in October 2006 she wanted to take advantage of every treatment option her care team recommended. But plans for surgery to remove her tumor were abruptly put on hold following and EKG.

Shirley Moore:
The reason I could not do it is because of the fact they discovered that my heart wasn't functioning properly. It was functioning between 35 and 40%. So they could not take me to surgery, what they needed to do is try to work on the heart.

Narrator:
Medication however, didn't improve her heart function. Her complaints about difficulty breathing led to a referral to the sleep disorders clinic at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center where the root of her problem was uncovered. She wasn't getting enough sleep and years of sleep deprivation had taken a toll on her heart. Dr. Dave Balachandran director of M. D. Anderson's sleep disorders clinic explained how living with a chronic sleep disorder could have contributed to Shirley's heart problem.

Dr. Dave Balachandran:
And there is an enormous amount of data in the last five years that suggests that poor quality sleep, especially things like sleep apnea even actually poor quality sleep, the short sleep, and the interrupted sleep really increase the inflammatory environment in the body and we think that that contributes to heart disease.

Narrator:
M. D. Anderson is the first comprehensive cancer center in the U.S. to establish a sleep disorder clinic. According to Dr. Balachandran sleep disorders in cancer patients which include difficulty breathing, seizures, and night time habits that disrupt restful sleep are so common they need to be addressed.

Dr. Dave Balachandran:
Sleep disorders are very common in cancer patients and studies that we've looked at have shown that up to 80% of patients with cancer will complain about a sleep disorder that's either upon diagnosis or during the course of their treatment. So it's really important that we pay attention to these complaints as the major complaints of our patients.

Narrator:
Getting more restorative sleep can improve anyone's quality of life but for cancer patients it can have an even greater impact on their treatment. According to Dr. Balachandran fatigued cancer patients are less likely to comply with their treatment, less tolerant of pain, less able to deal with stress, and at a greater risk of infection because of their weakened immune system. After a night of observation in the clinic Shirley was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Shirley Moore:
Dr. Balachandran told me that I had a significant number of times that I actually stopped breathing and a significant number of times that my oxygen level was decreased and when they told me that, it also made me feel as if I was really sane because you know, when you're tired all the time and you're saying 'I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm not resting' it's nice to have the facts that actually show you why you're not sleeping and that's what they gave me.

Narrator:
Now before she goes to bed she dons a mask that keeps her breathing through the night. Within weeks her heart function improved and she was cleared for surgery. Shirley feels fortunate to have found an answer to a problem that affected her quality of life for so long. Dr. Balachandran sees the sleep disorders clinic playing a greater role in the future of cancer care at M. D. Anderson as the program matures. Helping patients to deal with issues that immediately impact their quality of life, but also engaging in research to increase what is known about the connection between sleep and cancer.

Dr. Dave Balachandran:
You can't just focus on the cancer, you need to treat the whole body, you need to make sure that they're in the best cardiovascular health to treat their cancer you need to make sure they're in the best respiratory health, you need to make sure they're in the best mental frame and we know that sleep can impact all of those different functions as with everything at M. D. Anderson we're really focused on research and we really want to further the field of understanding how sleep and fatigue affect cancer patients and how cancer affects sleep and fatigue in our patients.

Narrator:
For more information on this topic visit mdanderson.org/cancernewsline.

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