Circadian chemotherapy for gynecological and genitourinary cancers

Chronobiol Int. 2002 Jan;19(1):237-51. doi: 10.1081/cbi-120002600.


The circadian timing of surgery, anticancer drugs, radiation therapy, and biologic agents can result in improved toxicity profiles, tumor control, and host survival. Optimally timed cancer chemotherapy with doxorubicin or pirarubicin (06:00h) and cisplatin (18:00h) enhanced the control of advanced ovarian cancer while minimizing side effects, and increased the response rate in metastatic endometrial cancer. Therapy of metastatic bladder cancer with doxorubicin-cisplatin was made more tolerable by this same circadian approach resulting in a 57% objective response rate. This optimally timed therapy is also effective in the adjuvant setting, decreasing the expected frequency of metastasis from locally advanced bladder cancer. Circadian fluorodeoxyuridine (FUDR) continuous infusion (70% of the daily dose given between 15:00h and 21:00h) has been shown effective for metastatic renal cell carcinoma resulting in 29% objective response and stable disease of more than 1 yr duration in the majority of patients. Toxicity is reduced markedly when FUDR infusion is modulated to circadian rhythms. In a multicenter trial in patients with metastatic renal cell cancer, patients were randomized to a flat or a circadian-modified FUDR infusion. This study confirmed a significant difference in toxicity and dose intensity, favoring the circadian-modified group. Hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer has been treated with circadian-timed FUDR chemotherapy; however, without objective response. Biological agents such as interferon-alpha and IL-2 have shown low but effective disease control in metastatic renal cell cancer, however, with much toxicity. Each of these cytokines shows circadian stage dependent toxicity and efficacy in model systems. In summary, the timing of anthracycline, platinum, and fluoropyrimidine-based drug therapies during the 24h is relevant to the toxic therapeutic ratio of these agents in the treatment of gynecologic and genitourinary cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / secondary
  • Cell Cycle
  • Chronotherapy*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Floxuridine / administration & dosage
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / pathology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Rats
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / secondary
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urogenital Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Floxuridine
  • Doxorubicin
  • pirarubicin
  • Cisplatin