Greater Tulsa Reporter
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Tulsa, Oklahoma anticipates its patients and employees will rest easier with the addition of a sleep lab to help those suffering from fatigue and sleeplessness.
The Tulsa hospital is the second CTCA facility to have a sleep lab, which was added in response to feedback from patients and caregivers who listed fatigue as one of their top quality of life concerns. Since it opened in late May, 2012, 43 patients and three employees have been identified as candidates for sleep study testing.
“Quality sleep has a significant impact on helping our patients fight their cancer and improve their overall quality of life,” said Dr. Larry Altshuler, internist and director of oncology intake, who oversees the new lab. “The sleep lab will be a valuable adjunct in our efforts to combat a variety of symptoms from cancer and its treatment, including insomnia, fatigue, narcotic side effects and many more.”
Located on the CTCA Tulsa campus, the sleep lab allows patients to be evaluated for narcolepsy, sleep apnea — a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or abnormally slow breathing during sleep — and other disorders.
Tulsa resident Susie Douglas was one of the first to undergo a sleep study at CTCA for her insomnia and restless leg syndrome, which she has suffered with for years. Douglas works as an IV chemo technician at CTCA.
“I was excited to learn CTCA was offering this new opportunity to its patients and staff,” said Douglas. “Because of my insomnia and restless leg syndrome, I was interested in participating in the study.”
According to a new study by Dr. F. Javier Nieto, chair of the department of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, cancer patients with severe sleep apnea had an increased risk of cancer mortality compared to those without the disorder. Dr. Nieto presented his study May 20 at the American Thoracic Society 2012 International Conference in San Francisco. His findings are scheduled to be published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. This is the first human study to link apnea with a higher rate of cancer mortality.
More than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Left untreated, symptoms of sleep apnea can include disturbed sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke or depression.
CTCA physicians are responsible for recommending their patients for sleep study testing when the patients exhibit symptoms of sleep apnea or have risk factors such as snoring, obesity, increased muscle mass, anatomic abnormalities, family history of stroke, heart attack, or diabetes, and high blood pressure.
“CTCA is all about our patients,” said Carla Rausch, manager of respiratory therapy at CTCA. “In order to better serve our patients, taking care of our employees is vital. A good night’s sleep may be not common for everyone, and if you’re not getting quality sleep your energy level, alertness and productivity can be affected. These are all areas that can affect our patient care delivery and our employees’ quality of life. That’s why we are very pleased to also offer this new service to our employees.”
The sleep study is conducted in the privacy of a comfortable room on the second floor of the hospital. The patient is connected to computerized monitoring equipment to track heart and brainwave activity, eye and leg movements, breathing, muscle tone and blood oxygen levels.
“The room was set up more like a hotel room than a hospital room. The tech was very knowledgeable and the equipment wasn’t bulky or uncomfortable,” said Douglas. “It feels like you are at home. I think this is a great resource for our patients and staff. CTCA has got it down. This is how sleep studies should be conducted.”
CTCA employees must get an order from their primary care physician (PCP) before scheduling an appointment for a sleep study test. The PCP will then receive a copy of the results to review with the employee.
The sleep lab currently is open for overnight studies three evenings a week and can accommodate testing for six patients per week. The lab hours are planned to expand as need for the service arises. With 30 patients on the sleep lab waiting list several weeks before opening, CTCA anticipates a high demand for the service, added Carla.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America®
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals providing a comprehensive, fully integrated approach to cancer treatment. CTCA serves patients with complex cancer at facilities located suburban Chicago, Philadelphia, suburban Phoenix and Tulsa, with a fifth hospital opening in Atlanta in the summer of 2012. Known for delivering the Mother Standard® of care and Patient Empowered Care®, CTCA provides patients with information about cancer and their treatment options so they can control their treatment decisions.