When dealing with patients who may have sleep apnea, it’s important to get them diagnosed and treated sooner rather than later. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to lead to additional health problems, including obesity, stroke, diabetes, and heart failure. Recent sleep studies have even found that obstructive sleep apnea is linked to an increased risk for development of certain types of cancer.
Follow along as ApneaMed explores the connection between sleep apnea and cancer.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes an individual to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night. These breathing disruptions occur when the soft tissue muscles in the throat collapse and cause a blockage of the airway, leaving the patient choking or gasping for air in an attempt to reopen their airway. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea results in an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, mood disorders, high blood pressure, stroke, fatigue, and more, which is why a patient must undergo treatment that helps prevent or limit the breathing disruptions while they sleep.
The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Cancer
According to a study published in June 2019 in the European Respiratory Journal, obstructive sleep apnea also increases the chances of getting cancer. During the study, researchers observed 20,000 adults diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Of those 20,000 adults, 2 percent of them were diagnosed with cancer — most of which were females.
While the risk of cancer has been linked to various risk factors, including age, body mass index, and lifestyle choices such as smoking, the study found that even when controlling for these risk factors, they link to sleep apnea was still prevalent.
A paper published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control notes that individuals with sleep apnea have an increased risk for multiple types of cancer, including kidney cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, and uterine cancer. However, the risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer was lower.
Although these studies have started to uncover a link between obstructive sleep apnea and certain types of cancer, researchers are still examining this increased risk. Certain theories suggest that the constant breathing disruptions cause stress on the body at a molecular level, leading to increased inflammation throughout the entire body.
Whatever the reason for the increased risk, it demonstrates the importance of diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea as soon as it is suspected.
Get Tested for Sleep Apnea with ApneaMed
If a patient suspects they may have obstructive sleep apnea, it is recommended that they undergo a sleep assessment.
A fast and affordable home sleep study can be self-administered in the comfort of your patient’s home, making it easy and convenient to get their diagnosis. The sleep apnea test will be shipped directly to their home along with instructions, so they feel confident administering the overnight unattended sleep study on their own.
While sleeping, the device will monitor and record their blood oxygen levels, oxygen saturation, breathing and heart rates, and more to gather important information that one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians can review.
Upon reviewing the results of the sleep apnea test, our sleep physicians will provide the patient with a recommended treatment for sleep apnea, which can lower the chances of their sleep apnea leading to cancer. The most common form of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, which will provide continuous airway pressure while your patient sleep — helping them breathe continuously throughout the night.
Contact our team to learn more if you have any questions about ApneaMed’s at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment.