Association of sleep duration and breast cancer OncotypeDX recurrence score


Shorter duration of sleep has been associated with risk of a number of medical conditions, including breast cancer. However, no prior study has investigated the relationship of average sleep duration before diagnosis and cancer aggressiveness. OncotypeDX is a widely utilized test to guide treatment in early stage hormone receptor positive breast cancer by predicting likelihood of recurrence. We reviewed medical records from ER+ early stage breast cancer patients participating in a case–control study for availability of OncotypeDX scores. All patients in the parent study were recruited at diagnosis and asked about average sleep duration in the 2 years before diagnosis. We analyzed data from 101 breast cancer patients with available OncotypeDX recurrence scores to test the hypothesis that shorter sleep is associated with greater likelihood of recurrence. We found that OncotypeDX recurrence scores were strongly correlated with average hours of sleep per night before breast cancer diagnosis, with fewer hours of sleep associated with a higher (worse) recurrence score (R = −0.30, p = 0.0031). This correlation was limited to post-menopausal breast cancer patients only (R = −0.41, p = 0.0011, for postmenopausal patients; R = −0.05, p = 0.80 for pre-menopausal patients). This association remains statistically significant after adjustment for age, physical activity, smoking status, and body mass index in the entire study sample (p = 0.0058) as well as in postmenopausal patients (p = 0.0021). This is the first study to suggest that women who routinely sleep fewer hours may develop more aggressive breast cancers compared with women who sleep longer hours.

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This study was supported by the National Cancer Institute (grant # from K07 CA136758 to CLT and R03 CA143917 to LL) and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (P30 CA043703). The authors wish to thank Drew Helmus, Jennifer Zabel, and Audrey Lynn for their assistance in recruitment and data collection.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to the presented research.

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Correspondence to Cheryl L. Thompson.

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Thompson, C.L., Li, L. Association of sleep duration and breast cancer OncotypeDX recurrence score. Breast Cancer Res Treat 134, 1291–1295 (2012).

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  • Breast cancer
  • OncotypeDX
  • Sleep
  • Recurrence