Light Therapy to Treat Cancer-related Fatigue, Sleep Problems, Depression and Cognitive Impairment Among Breast Cancer Patients.

  • End date
    Jul 10, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Reykjavik University
Updated on 10 October 2022
breast cancer
cognitive impairment
cancer treatment
depressed mood
light therapy
breast cancer, treatment
cancer-related fatigue
Accepts healthy volunteers


Severe fatigue, depression, sleep problems and cognitive impairment are the most commonly reported side effects of cancer treatment. These aversive side effects are hypothesized to be related to the disruption of circadian rhythms associated with cancer and its treatment. Exposure to Bright White Light (BWL) has been found to synchronize the circadian activity rhythms but research with cancer patients has been scarce. Therefore, the proposed randomized control trial (RCT) will test if systematic light exposure (sLE) will minimize overall levels of cancer-related fatigue (CRF), depression, sleep problems and cognitive impairment among breast cancer patients undergoing breast cancer treatment (i.e., surgery, chemotherapy). SLE incorporates the delivery of harmless UV-protected BWL or Dim White Light (DWL - standard comparison in light studies) delivered to patients by using special glasses for 30 minutes each morning, during their treatment. The proposed study, including a delineated comparison condition, will investigate the effects of BWL on CRF, sleep, depression, cognition, circadian rhythms, and inflammation markers among patients undergoing breast cancer treatment. The proposed RCT could have major public health relevance as it will determine if an easy-to-deliver, inexpensive, and low patient burden intervention reduces common side effects (e.g., CRF, depression, cognitive impairment) of cancer treatment (i.e., surgery, chemotherapy).

Aim 1 - Assess whether Bright White Light (BWL) compared with Dim White Light (DWL) among breast cancer patients undergoing breast cancer treatment will minimize overall levels of CRF, depression, sleep problems, and cognitive impairment during and after breast cancer treatment, compared to healthy controls.

Aim 2 - Determine whether the BWL intervention affects cortisol rhythms, circadian activity rhythms, melatonin rhythms, and inflammation markers that have been identified as correlates/causes of cancer-related side effects (e.g., CRF, depression, sleep problems).

Aim 3 - Exploratory: Explore whether the effects of BWL compared to DWL on the cancer-related side effects (e.g., CRF, cognitive impairment) are mediated by the beneficial effects of the BWL in synchronizing circadian rhythms.

Aim 4 - Exploratory: Explore potential moderators of the intervention including seasonality, chronobiology, personality, and social factors.

Condition Breast Cancer, Circadian Rhythms, Fatigue, Sleep Disturbance, Cognitive Impairment, Inflammatory Response, Depression
Treatment Light Glasses (Experimental), Light Glasses (Comparison)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04418856
SponsorReykjavik University
Last Modified on10 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Breast cancer Patients: Newly diagnosed patients with stages 1 to 3 breast cancer scheduled to undergo surgery (without chemotherapy) and newly diagnosed patients with stages 1 to 3 breast cancer scheduled to undergo both surgery and chemotherapy
Healthy controls: never received a cancer diagnosis

Exclusion Criteria

Stage 3B breast cancer, inflammatory or stage 4 breast cancer; under age 18; pregnancy; pre-existing anemia (Hb <10gm/dl); history of bipolar disorder or mania (which are contra-indications for BWL treatment); and any other physical or psychological impairments (e.g., sleep disorder diagnosis) which could limit participation
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