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Nondrug Therapy for Insomnia in Breast Cancer Patients

When counting sheep just isn’t cutting it

Even though it tends to be under-reported, insomnia is common among people with breast cancer. Twenty to 40 percent of those with the disease and 23 to 44 percent of long-term survivors suffer bouts of sleep disturbance, while only 10 percent of age-matched controls experience insomnia. Left untreated, this condition is associated with increased anxiety, depression and pain. In addition, patients experience decreased quality of life, cancer-free survival and cancer-specific overall survival.

Researchers discussed results of multiple trials examining breast cancer patients, insomnia, and benefits and limitations of nonpharmacological treatment, and published their findings in Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research. They found cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction and yoga may be more beneficial for breast cancer patients with sleep disturbance than pharmaceutical approaches. While both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical treatments showed similar efficacy, nonpharmaceutical methods resulted in fewer adverse effects. Also, patients can continue to practice behavioral strategies for insomnia after their treatment has ended.

For more information about helping your patients to self-manage emotional reactions to cancer-related stress using an innovative digital platform, visit CanSurround.

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