This paper assessed the connection between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and the incidence of malignant tumors.
PubMed, Cochrane, Scopus, Health Source Nursing Academic Edition, EMBASE, and Web of Sciences were searched until the date of July 25, 2020. The analysis included an assessment of the overall incidence of OSA malignancies, the incidence of OSA malignancies by age and gender, and the incidence of different types of malignancies in patients with OSA. The total rate and the corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) of the incidence of malignant tumors in patients with OSA were calculated. Patients with OSA were classified according to age, gender, and different types of malignant tumors for meta-analysis.
A total of 12 studies involving 862,820 participants were included in this meta-analysis. Random effect model analysis showed that the total incidence of malignant tumors in patients with OSA was 0.046% (95% CI: 0.027-0.065, P < 0.001), higher than that of malignant tumors in the general population. According to the analytical results classified by gender, the incidence of malignant tumor in female patients with OSA was 4.0% (95% CI: 0.014-0.066), higher than that in male patients at 3.5% (95% CI: 0.012-0.058). The analytical results classified by age showed that the incidence of malignant tumors in patients with OSA aged below 60 years was 1.8% (95% CI: 0.000-0.036), lower than that in patients aged above 60 years at 4.3% (95% CI: 0.002-0.084). The analytical results classified by the types of malignant tumors showed that the incidences of breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma in patients with OSA were 0.5% (95% CI: 0.001-0.008), 0.5% (95% CI: 0.002-0.009), 0.5% (95% CI: 0.003-0.008), 1.1% (95% CI: 0.002-0.021), 0.3% (95% CI: 0.001-0.005), 0.1% (95% CI: 0.001-0.002), and 0.4% (95% CI: 0.003-0.005), respectively. Among them, the incidence of prostate cancer was the highest, followed by breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma, and kidney cancer, whereas the incidence of pancreatic cancer was the lowest. However, the incidence of specific malignant tumors in patients with OSA did not have a significant increase compared with that in the general population.
The analytical results of this meta-analysis suggested that OSA may be associated with an overall increase in the incidence of malignancies based on the currently available data, but the connection with specific types of malignancies was not significant. Further studies are needed to explore this association in the future.

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