Researchers in Canada assessed 962 patients undergoing cancer surgery for insomnia symptoms and followed them for 18 months. At the time of their surgery, 59% of patients reported insomnia symptoms, with 28% meeting criteria for an insomnia disorder, meaning they took more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at least three times per week. A year and a half later, 36% of study participants reported insomnia symptoms. Insomnia rates were greater in women than men, which reflects what we normally see in the general population.
The etiology of the insomnia was not evaluated in this study, but the findings are important because they bring attention to an important aspect of cancer patients' health. Hopefully, oncologists will include sleep quality in their assessments, and refer those patients with a possible sleep disorder to a sleep center for help.