Circadian disruption and cancer- and treatment-related symptoms

Ali Amidi, Lisa M. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cancer patients experience a number of co-occurring side- and late-effects due to cancer and its treatment including fatigue, sleep difficulties, depressive symptoms, and cognitive impairment. These symptoms can impair quality of life and may persist long after treatment completion. Furthermore, they may exacerbate each other’s intensity and development over time. The co-occurrence and interdependent nature of these symptoms suggests a possible shared underlying mechanism. Thus far, hypothesized mechanisms that have been purported to underlie these symptoms include disruptions to the immune and endocrine systems. Recently circadian rhythm disruption has emerged as a related pathophysiological mechanism underlying cancer- and cancer-treatment related symptoms. Circadian rhythms are endogenous biobehavioral cycles lasting approximately 24 hours in humans and generated by the circadian master clock – the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus. The suprachiasmatic nucleus orchestrates rhythmicity in a wide range of bodily functions including hormone levels, body temperature, immune response, and rest-activity behaviors. In this review, we describe four common approaches to the measurement of circadian rhythms, highlight key research findings on the presence of circadian disruption in cancer patients, and provide a review of the literature on associations between circadian rhythm disruption and cancer- and treatment-related symptoms. Implications for future research and interventions will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1009064
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - 28 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • circadian rhythms
  • cognitive impairment
  • depressed mood
  • fatigue
  • sleep


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