Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

Mark Opp

Second Advisor

Alena Grabowski

Third Advisor

Abby Hickcox


Background Melatonin (MLT) may be a useful therapeutic in the treatment of cancer. Recent meta-analyses, both published in 2012, provided evidence of tumor regression, reduced cancer treatment side effects, and improved patient quality of life (QOL). Notably, over half of the included studies in each meta-analysis came from the Lissoni research group. The present paper is a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials published since 2010 with a focus on MLT’s effects on three outcomes: disease progression, cancer treatment side effects and QOL in patients with solid tumors.

Methods An electronic search was conducted using the databases PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science. Trials were included if they included MLT and participants with metastatic solid tumors. Data regarding tumor regression, cancer treatment side effects, and QOL were pooled and analyzed using R Studio.

Results Of the 14 studies included, 8 articles were new studies that were compared to six studies were from the Lissoni research group. The other eight studies were new studies published between 2010 and the present. The 14 studies included patients who were given MLT dosages between 10mg and 40 mg every day over the course of the study in addition to the normal cancer treatment therapies. MLT had no effect on patient reported cancer treatment side effects or QOL (Total= 0.05, CI (-2.21 - 2.44); P=0.01, Total= -0.01, CI (-0.58 – 0.56), P=.36). Limited data areprovided on tumor regression, making it difficult to statistically analyze on existing data. Additional data are needed to analyze MLT’s role in tumor regression.

Conclusions MLT does not improve treatment side effects or QOL in patients with metastatic solid neoplasms.