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Is anyone considering treatment for sleep apnea in light of the research?

Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

During my first colonoscopy and the colon resection I had afterward I was told that I had sleep apnea that put me in respiratory distress while under anesthesia and that I should have it treated as soon as I recovered from cancer. This was also mentioned a year later when I had a liver resection to remove mets from liver.

I haven't had a chance to get the sleep apnea treated because I have either been having surgery, recovering from surgery, or having chemo and recovering from chemo more recently.

The national news this week was that research shows that people with sleep apnea not only have a higher risk of getting cancer but a higher risk of dying once they get cancer.

I am just coming up for air after chemo that I finished in March and make my first trip for long put off dental work this week. After I complete my dental work, I am contemplating what other health conditions I should address and in what priority. I am already working on eating healthy (now that I can eat again at all) and increasing exercise and fighting against the lasting effects of chemo brain. I had such a vision loss with chemo I plan to see an opthamologist as well as a dentist very soon, but I am thinking maybe now I should have this sleep apnea treated.

Anybody else have sleep apnea and thinking of getting it treated to help cancer survival in light of the recent news?


John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

sleep apnea -

My wife had been diagnosed with "sleep apnea", but we found
out that it was a "pain killer" that was causing the symptoms.

A friend that had been under treatment for "sleep apnea" (without
resolve) stopped taking the pain pills for his bad back after hearing
of my wife's experience, and the "sleep apnea" went away.

Another friend's wife stopped her "depression meds" and her
"sleep apnea" was "cured".

The side effects of many meds includes "breathing difficulties",
but most all physicians treat the symptoms without understanding
the ramifications of the other drugs the patient may be taking.

We have to be our own advocate and do whatever it takes
to get educated regarding the drugs we take.

Unfortunately, taking combinations and multiples of medications
results in the compounding of side effects and withdrawal symptoms
that the drugs were never tested for.

We know our own body best, and we should be better aware
of what symptoms started with the taking of what medications;
physicians only know what they are provided to read by the
pharmaceutical company involved.

Know and trust thyself!

Best wishes,


Helen321's picture
Posts: 1428
Joined: May 2012

Yes, I have sleep apnea so I have to now in light of the research, go to a sleep center and seek treatment. Pain meds usually worsen an existing condition, not create it. At least that is my understanding. Sometimes people don't know they have sleep apnea. There are certain pain meds I can not take. I was recently given one and because I was given morphine that day, I took it anyway because I was not of clear mind. Allergy bracelets just become a part of a patient. No one notices them after awhile. I spent 3 hours trying to breathe every few minutes in my sleep. I finally just woke myself up and stayed awake until it cleared my system.

Patteee's picture
Posts: 950
Joined: Jul 2009

I went through a sleep study last summer and was found to have severe sleep apnea. Absolutely no surprise to me-been using a machine for a year and it was the best thing I have ever done.

Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

Are you using a CPAP machine and do you find it tolerable? I read that many people who get treated end up finding the machine uncomfortable and stop using it. I'm a restless sleeper so wonder if I can tolerate one.

I've snored for years but didn't realize it was sleep apnea causing it. I understand there is a new simple device for those who have sleep apnea where their only problem with blocked airways is in the throat. Unfortunately I have also the problem of blocked sinuses as well as the closing throat so would probably have to do the traditional CPAP machine.

I do not take pain medicine but have always snored -- just ask my husband :-)


Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3372
Joined: Jan 2010

My son has sleep apnea. It was found when he was in the hospital for another reason.

He was aprehensive about the CPAP as the full face mask made him clostraphobic, but he was able to get something much more tolerable. He has a small unit which allows him to take it with him when he travels.

You also may find that you are a less restless sleeper with the air assist. You may be tossing and turning due to mini wake-ups.

Wishing you the best,

Marie who loves kitties

Patteee's picture
Posts: 950
Joined: Jul 2009

Yes I use a CPAP machine- and it has taken some getting used to. I still find myself waking up in the morning, the machine on and the mask on the ground. Not remembering taking it off. I am on my second mask, will try a 3rd one in Sept (every 6 months the insurance will pay for a new one). My sleep apnea was pretty severe- I was waking up with headaches that felt like a gun blast to the back of my head- high blood pressure- panic attacks and never feeling like I was sleeping. Trust me when I say that I had it bad enough, where the machine has been a blessing. no more headaches, blood pressure is normal, no panic attacks and I could sleep all day- and on some Saturdays, I have!

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

even the nasal 'buds'. Because of his beard, he found the full-face mask to fit the best.

I agree with others, it DOES take some getting used to...but it is your life, after all, that you are protecting.

Sleeping with him also took some getting used to...I first needed to get used to the air noise...but now, it's sort of a 'white noise' for me, and it's hard for me to sleep without it...*smile*...

Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

Since there is scientific research associating sleep apnea with poorer rates of cancer survival i did ask for a referral to the sleep disorders clinic and will be going to an appointment. This will be AFTER my post-chemo colonoscopy, which i am still waiting to have scheduled, and my post-chemo trip to dentist.


Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

Wanted to followup on this earlier post. I recently went for a sleep study at the sleep disorder center. That day it had been rainy and I had a lot of joint pain and had to take some pain medicine, which they don't really want you to do before a sleep study, but I just had to.

Got there, spent the night with a bunch of electodes hooked to me and slept like a baby in a clean, comfortable bed...very restful and peaceful, in fact more restful than home. No distractions and no responsibilities, just free to sleep :-)

They said I did not have classic sleep apnea but had something like very frequent RERA's -- Respiratory Effort Related Arousels.

I'm not sure what the difference is between those and sleep apnea is, but they want me to try a CPAP machine before buying one to see if helps. The med center has loaners so I am waiting to check one out for two weeks and see what it does for me.

I've also been to the dentist and gotten three new crows, had my hair cut and colored, gone for an eye exam and am going to physical therapy for the chemo damage to my feet from Xeloda.


ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

I underwent the overnight monitoring for apnea. The verdict was that I did not suffer from apnea as I did not stop breathing. But although I did not stop breathing ,at times I was failing to absorb enough oxygen. That did not qualify me for cpap. I still have the same problem and wake in panic because I don't seem to be able to get enough air. It is not a pleasant feeling and I felt let down by the medical profession because no one was willing to help or even suggest a cause let alone a solution. Every night now before bed I use a ventolin inhaler to help me thru the night. They are not on prescription and can be bought over the counter in Australia.Ron.

Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

I am very sorry you did not seem to get any help for your breathing struggles after your sleep study session.

Tomorrow I get a loan of a CPAP machine for two weeks to see if it will help me. I sure hope it does.

While they said I did not have actual sleep apnea and did not stop breathing, what they did say is that i had very frequent RERA's...Respiratory Event Related Arousals.

If the CPAP helps me then I can get a letter for my insurance company and possibly get one for permanent use through a process of appeal.


Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

I got the loaner CPAP machine from the sleep clinic for two weeks and had my first night on it last night. I do not want to rush to judgment on one night but I have to say that I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER IN THE MORNING.

Tonight is night 2 so we will see if last night was a fluke or if this thing is goiing to improve my life dramatically (and also decrease my chances for cancer recurrence).


RickMurtagh's picture
Posts: 590
Joined: Feb 2010

i thought those were from...i guess they could be attributed to continued breathing...

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2012

I am a new member to CSN. I have been just been diagnosed with rectal cancer and will meet for the second time with my surgeon tomorrow to plan the APR surgery which I have decided upon. My tumor is a T3 and located too close to my anus to do a transanal procedure.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea almost 3 years ago and now sleep with a CPAP. It was life changing for me. I now sleep through the night, feel refreshed in the morning, and no longer experience mid-afternoon fatigue. I obviously have no experience on post cancer treatment benefits, but if a good night's sleep is a benefit I would recommend pursuing sleep apnea treatment. Your physician can refer you to a pulmonary/sleep treatment specialist for a sleep study.

Good luck!

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