Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 10–20 | Cite as

Stress, Coping, and Circadian Disruption Among Women Awaiting Breast Cancer Surgery

  • Eric Dedert
  • Elizabeth Lush
  • Anees Chagpar
  • Firdaus S. Dhabhar
  • Suzanne C. Segerstrom
  • David Spiegel
  • Ehab Dayyat
  • Meagan Daup
  • Kelly McMasters
  • Sandra E. Sephton
Original Article



Psychological distress and coping related to a breast cancer diagnosis can profoundly affect psychological adjustment, possibly resulting in the disruption of circadian rest/activity and cortisol rhythms, which are prognostic for early mortality in metastatic colorectal and breast cancers, respectively.


This study aims to explore the relationships of cancer-specific distress and avoidant coping with rest/activity and cortisol rhythm disruption in the period between diagnosis and breast cancer surgery.


Fifty-seven presurgical breast cancer patients provided daily self-reports of cancer-specific distress and avoidant coping as well as actigraphic and salivary cortisol data.


Distress and avoidant coping were related to rest/activity rhythm disruption (daytime sedentariness, inconsistent rhythms). Patients with disrupted rest/activity cycles had flattened diurnal cortisol rhythms.


Maladaptive psychological responses to breast cancer diagnosis were associated with disruption of circadian rest/activity rhythms. Given that circadian cycles regulate tumor growth, we need greater understanding of possible psychosocial effects in cancer-related circadian disruption.


Breast cancer Circadian rhythm Actigraphy Cortisol Rest/activity Sleep 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Dedert
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Lush
    • 3
  • Anees Chagpar
    • 4
  • Firdaus S. Dhabhar
    • 5
    • 6
  • Suzanne C. Segerstrom
    • 7
  • David Spiegel
    • 5
  • Ehab Dayyat
    • 8
  • Meagan Daup
    • 3
  • Kelly McMasters
    • 9
    • 10
  • Sandra E. Sephton
    • 3
    • 10
  1. 1.Veterans Affairs Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  6. 6.Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and InfectionStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  8. 8.Department of PediatricsUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  9. 9.Division of Surgical Oncology, School of MedicineUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  10. 10.James Graham Brown Cancer CenterLouisvilleUSA

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