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Adjuvant, Body composition, Breast neoplasms, Chemotherapy, Longitudinal studies, Weight gain



  1. Ingram, Carolyn DNSc, RN
  2. Brown, Jean K. PhD, FAAN, RN


The widely documented problem of weight gain during adjuvant breast cancer chemotherapy has decreased in frequency and magnitude. However, adverse changes in body composition remain a problem. This study identified the frequency, magnitude, and patterns of weight and body composition change in a sample of premenopausal breast cancer survivors who were receiving 3 common chemotherapy regimens. The longitudinal study followed 76 women at 2 centers in Ontario, Canada. Measures were obtained at baseline, the start of every other treatment cycle and treatment completion.


Participants' mean age was 44.1 years (SD = 5.9). Their mean baseline weight and body mass index were 69.3 kg (SD = 17.0) and 26 kg/m2 (SD = 6.6), respectively. Fifty-five percent maintained stable weights, while 34% gained and 10.5% lost weight. Their mean weight change during treatment was a 1.4-kg gain. Weight gainers and losers gained or lost 3 to 4 times as much fat as fat-free mass, respectively. A researcher's definition of "weight change" will influence the amount of weight gain reported, and the results of this study suggest that previous research may have overestimated the frequency and magnitude of weight gain in this population. Further research is needed to design interventions that match survivors' needs.