Spanish researchers are again examining all facets of sleep apnea with a new study concluding that the severity of sleep apnea can independently predict the aggressiveness of malignant skin melanoma.
The research presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress adds new evidence to a number of studies that have found a link between cancer and the sleep disorder. According to a report on the ERS Web site, previous studies have looked at a link between sleep apnea and incidence rates from cancer.
Some experimental studies in mice have also shown that reduced oxygen levels in the blood, which is common in sleep apnea, enhanced tumor growth. The Spanish study if the first to look at the link between a specific type of cancer (skin melanoma) and sleep apnea.
Researchers studied 56 patients diagnosed with malignant skin melanomas. They measured the aggressiveness of the cancer along with the presence and severity of sleep apnea—60.7% of the patients had sleep apnea and 14.3% had severe sleep apnea.
The results found that the melanoma was more aggressive as the severity of sleep apnea increased. This was the case for all three measurements for sleep apnea severity. The severity measurements were also linked with other factors of aggressiveness, including the growth rate or the depth of invasion of the tumor.
“This is the first study in a human sample to show that sleep apnoea can worsen the outcomes of melanoma,” said lead author Francisco Campos-Rodriguez, MD, from the Hospital de Valme in Seville, Spain. “The findings are from a preliminary small sample, but if the results are confirmed in larger studies, this would have important clinical implications, particularly as sleep apnea can be easily treated and this could open up new therapeutic possibilities for people with both conditions. We have just begun a bigger prospective trial enrolling 450 patients with cutaneous melanoma to analyze this link further.”
Source: ERS Annual Congress