27 Feb Most Women Report Weight Gain After Breast Cancer Diagnosis
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Carolyn Ee PhD
NICM Health Research Institute
Western Sydney University
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Worldwide and in Australia, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Weight gain is common after diagnosis of breast cancer and may increase tumour recurrence risk, mortality rate, and worsen quality of life. As there was no national data on the prevalence of weight gain after breast cancer in Australia, we undertook a national survey which was open to any woman living in Australia who had breast cancer.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: The proportion of women who were overweight/obese rose from just under half at the time of diagnosis (49%), to two thirds (67%) at the time of the survey. Most women reported gaining weight after diagnosis (64%), and in those who had gained weight, the average weight gain was 9kg. Almost one in five (17%) women gained more than 20 kg, half of women gained >5kg, and most women reported high levels of concern over their weight.
On average, women gained half a kilogram per year more than age-matched controls. Most women reported gaining weight in the first 12-18 months after diagnosis.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Women gain a substantial amount of weight after diagnosis of breast cancer, which cannot be explained by weight gain over time that is expected as women age. The majority of respondents had an increased risk of tumour recurrence and higher cancer-specific and all-cause mortality. There is a window of opportunity within the first 18 months to act to prevent weight gain after breast cancer.
Limitations of our study include the small sample size, which was mainly sourced from the Breast Cancer Network Australia Review and Survey Group, and the self-report nature of our survey.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Health professionals who care for women with breast cancer should initiate early conversations with women about weight gain prevention, ideally within the first 12-18 months. In particular, exercise should be prescribed, as it can alleviate other sequelae of cancer such as fatigue.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: We would like to acknowledge the contribution of women from the Breast Cancer Network Australia Review and Survey Group.
The authors have no disclosures to report.
Ee, C., Cave, A.E., Naidoo, D. et al. Weight before and after a diagnosis of breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ: a national Australian survey. BMC Cancer 20, 113 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-020-6566-4
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