Survey on how prostate cancer may affect sleep patterns

We know that cancer can affect the sleep patterns of many cancer patients. There is clear evidence that this can also occur among prostate cancer patients. With a single rather obvious exception, what is less clear is exactly why having prostate cancer may affect the sleep of prostate cancer patients.

The obvious exception — obviously — is that treatment for localized prostate cancer is commonly associated (at least in the short term) with loss of good control over one’s urinary function. Thus, men who have had surgery for prostate cancer, in particular, may be getting up frequently at night for a while to empty their bladders. However, most such men will recover good or at least reasonably good urinary control over time.

A research team based at the University of Otago in New Zealand is interested in surveying men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer about things associated with their sleep pattern. If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, please consider participating in this online study. You can simply click here to take part. Data from this study could be used by clinicians to optimize treatment for patients and partners who experience sleep problems.

This study is led by Dr Erik Wibowo from the University of Otago. It will take you about 45 minutes to complete. Participants can enter into a raffle for a chance to win a NZ$100 VISA gift card (although whether such a gift card is usable outside New Zealand we are unclear).

A complicating factor related to sleep patterns and prostate cancer in particular is that aging can also affect sleep patterns, and since the majority of cases of prostate cancer are identified in men of 60+ years of age, it may be difficult to “tease out” the degree to which it is the prostate cancer that is affecting patients’ sleep or just the aging process.

6 Responses

  1. I got the “obvious exception” wrong: I assumed “anxiety”. When I remember I have it (a poor memory can be a blessing), that mechanism operates.

  2. For men placed on hormone therapy, sleep complications are common. Hot flushes can wake you up multiple times a night without even being aware … for me that happened and explained why I woke up in the morning feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck!

    For more on sleep, cancer and specifically prostate cancer, please listen to this webinar with Rubin Naiman, PhD, who is a widely recognized as a sleep expert and works with Andy Weil at Arizona Integrative Medical Center.

    Onward & upwards,


  3. I took the survey and thought it was pretty good. It did seem mostly oriented to people who were either under treatment or in the recovery period, but there were options for folks like me who are currently well past those points; it did capture that I was well beyond the time I was on ADT, and hopefully the software will use that key fact to group and interpret results like mine. The survey did not have questions that would have captured how I felt during those treatment points, now years ago, and it almost entirely lacked open ended options for unusual situations; I would have mentioned that I slept like a log when on thalidomide and had problems with drowsiness during the daytime. The survey did not address status regarding probability of cure or recurrence.

    Overall it was a good experience, and I wish the researchers well. (It’s odd that this is a New Zealand study as that nation is not often prominent in news or discourse. However, right now PBS is running a series on Edmund Hillary, the man who first climbed Mt. Everest with Tenzing Norgay.)

  4. Sleep issues while on ADT — my experience over four rounds of IADT3

    Rick, I remember those issues well, though the survey for me did not capture my experience while on ADT as it was more oriented to my current experience.

    I too would wake up with hot flashes several times a night in the early days of 2000 when first on ADT, often with a mild sweat, but I started taking a soy supplement early on, in fact one of the ones ladies take for flashes, and I believe that helped reduce intensity and perhaps frequency and duration. I also found that having a fan on all night was a help, and I had a small, battery-powered, hand-held fan with me too. It got so I would sense that a flash was coming, and, barely awake, I would aim an air stream at my neck for a couple of minutes, and that helped prevent, minimize, or shut down the flash, allowing me to quickly drop back to sleep.

    I tracked my flashes (each night) for each of my four rounds of IADT3 (31 months, 19 months, 19 months, and 18 months. Obviously I was getting older during this period, after starting at age 56. For age or whatever reason, I found the flashes became less noticeable as I grew older. In fact, while I experienced typically 0 or 1 flash per night during the first few months of my fourth round of ADT3, they soon fell to zero or rare, and I stopped tallying them for the remainder of round four. The survey did capture age data as well as a fairly good time frame for my ADT use, so they may be able to see and report whether there is an age, time on ADT, or other association.

    The second edition of Androgen Deprivation Therapy by Wassersug, Walker and Robinson, 2018, has good information on countering side effects.

    I’m curious what Dr. Naiman says in his webinar. Thanks for posting the URL.

  5. Dear Jim:

    The lead researcher, Erik Wibowo, recently moved to New Zealand from Canada, where he used to work with Dr. Wassersug and his colleagues, so that explains why this study is coming out of NZ.

  6. Thanks.

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