Sleep-wake rhythm disruption is associated with cancer-related fatigue in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia

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STUDY OBJECTIVES: To compare sleep-wake rhythms, melatonin, and cancer-related fatigue in pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) to healthy children and to assess the association between sleep-wake outcomes and cancer-related fatigue.

METHODS: A national cohort of ALL patients (2-18 years) was included. Sleep-wake rhythms were measured using actigraphy and generated the following variables: Interdaily stability (IS): higher IS reflects higher stability; intradaily variability (IV): lower IV indicates less fragmentation; L5 and M10 counts: activity counts during the five least and 10 most active hours, respectively; and relative amplitude (RA): the ratio of L5 and M10 counts (higher RA reflects a more robust rhythm). The melatonin metabolite, 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s), was assessed in urine. Cancer-related fatigue was assessed with the PedsQL Multidimensional Fatigue Scale. Using regression models sleep-wake rhythms, aMT6s, and cancer-related fatigue were compared to healthy children and associations between sleep-wake outcomes and cancer-related fatigue were assessed in ALL patients.

RESULTS: In total, 126 patients participated (response rate: 67%). IS, RA, and M10 counts were lower in patients compared to healthy children (p < 0.001). aMT6s levels were comparable to healthy children (p = 0.425). Patients with ALL were more fatigued compared to healthy children (p < 0.001). Lower IS, RA and M10 counts and higher IV were significantly associated with more parent-reported cancer-related fatigue. Associations between sleep-wake rhythms and self-reported cancer-related fatigue were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Sleep-wake rhythm impairment is associated with more cancer-related fatigue in pediatric ALL patients. Interventions aimed to improve sleep hygiene and encourage physical activity may reduce cancer-related fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • Actigraphy
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Fatigue/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma/complications
  • Sleep


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