From the Journals

More data link severe sleep apnea and aggressive melanoma



Severe sleep-disordered breathing was significantly associated with more aggressive skin cancer in a study of 443 adults.

Melanoma cells are shown. Dlumen/Thinkstock

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) has been associated with increased cancer risk and mortality, but no large studies have examined the association in specific cancers, wrote Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia, MD, of La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospital, Valencia, Spain, and his colleagues.

The researchers conducted a sleep study of 443 adults with melanoma within 6 months of their diagnoses. The findings were published in the journal CHEST®. Overall, patients with more severe sleep apnea were nearly twice as likely to have aggressive type melanoma, compared with those with less severe sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea was defined via the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) and the desaturation indices (DI). Aggressive melanoma was defined as a Breslow index greater than 1 mm, compared with 1 mm or less.

Patients with AHI greater than 15.6 events per hour or in the DI4% tertile (more than 9.3 desaturations per hour) were approximately twice as likely (1.94 and 1.93 times, respectively) to have a more aggressive melanoma as were those with less severe sleep apnea, after adjustment for age, gender, body mass index, and melanoma location.

The average age of the patients was 60 years, 51% were male, and the average time between the melanoma diagnosis and the sleep study was 82 days. Sleep symptoms were not significantly different between the patients with aggressive or less aggressive melanoma. However, in addition to more severe sleep apnea, those with aggressive melanoma were significantly more likely to be older, male, and have a higher BMI than were those with less aggressive disease.

“Among the most salient findings were the dependence of the association between SDB and the markers of melanoma aggressiveness on both age and the actual indicators of tumor aggressiveness,” the researchers noted. The association was significant in patients younger than 55 years only if their Breslow index was greater than 2 mm, the researchers said.

The study findings were limited by the absence of full overnight polysomnography to assess SDB because not all participating centers had access to that option, the researchers noted. However, the results support an independent link between sleep apnea and common measures of aggressive melanoma, especially in younger patients, they said. “Future prospective studies are needed to confirm whether the presence and treatment of SDB and its evolution over time are also associated with poor melanoma outcomes, including death, the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying this association,” they added.

The study was supported in part by Fondo de Investigation Sanitaria, SEPAR, Red Respira, and Sociedad Valenciana de Neumología. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose

SOURCE: Martinez-Garcia M et al. CHEST. 2018; doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2018.07.015.

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