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Ask an Expert: Chemotherapy and insomnia

Q: I'm undergoing chemo, and though I am experiencing heavy-duty fatigue, I am also suffering from insomnia! Sometimes it's hard to fall asleep; other nights I wake up around 3 a.m. for an hour or two. My medical oncologist said chemo can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle and prescribed Ambien. I don't like the idea of relying on a sleeping pill. Anything else I can do?

Answer from Miles Hassell, M.D., director of Providence Integrative Medicine at Providence Cancer Center:

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Research abstract: Effect of surgeon specialty on processes of care and outcomes for ovarian cancer patients

Abstract
BACKGROUND: For many diseases, specialized care (i.e., care rendered by a specialist) has been associated with superior-quality care (i.e., better outcomes). We examined associations between physician specialty and outcomes in a population-based cohort of elderly ovarian cancer surgery patients.

Surgery by Consultant Gynecologic Oncologists Improves Survival in Patients with Ovarian Carcinoma

Consultant gynecologic oncologists from the regional comprehensive cancer center assisted community gynecologists in the surgical treatment of patients with ovarian carcinoma when they were invited. For this report, the authors evaluated the effects of primary surgery by a gynecologic oncologist on treatment outcome. 

Does Ovarian Cancer Treatment and Survival Differ by the Specialty Providing Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy for ovarian cancer is usually administered by medical oncologists (MOs) or gynecologic oncologists (GOs). GOs perform a broad spectrum of surgical and medical activities while managing a limited number of diseases; MOs specialize in the administration of chemotherapy but manage a broad array of diseases. We asked whether survival, treatment, and toxicity differed according to the type of specialist providing the chemotherapy after surgery.