Endocrine and immunological alterations during cancer processes

Chiara Mussi, Stefano Crippa, Claudia Bonardi, Alberto Fontana, Roberto Caprotti, Franco Uggeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An immunological deficit is often associated with cancer processes. Because cortisol has an important immunosuppressive activity and it is strictly involved in stress responses, we examined its serum levels in colorectal cancer patients and its relationships with peripheral lymphocyte counts. Cortisol circadian rhythm and total and CD4+ lymphocytes were determined in 40 patients. The rate of patients with an altered cortisol circadian rhythm was 28%, and it was significantly more frequent in patients with nodal involvement (P <0.005) and with metastatic spread (P <0.005). Patient ratio with total lymphocytes assessment decrease was 30%. There was no correlation between lymphocytopenia and alteration of cortisol circadian rhythm. Data suggest a significant adrenal glands rhythm modification during cancer processes, associated with poor prognostic factors. Cortisol levels and lymphocytopenia seem not to be related. The origins of these alterations are unknown. They may favor or result from cancer spread.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-71
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cortisol
  • Endocrine system
  • Immunodeficiency
  • Lymphocytopenia
  • Metastatic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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