Optimizing Weight-Loss Interventions in Women Cancer Survivors

AJMC Staff

Several studies have demonstrated that obesity can reduce survival in cancer patients. While definitive trials that include weight loss as an adjuvant intervention have not yet been conducted, several observational studies have evaluated the impact of this intervention on survival in women with breast and other cancers. Researchers in Australia conducted a systematic analysis of several randomized control trials that evaluated weight loss as an intervention for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.

The authors screened articles in PubMed and Web of Science, published between 2013 and July 2016. Of the total 311 publications identified, 10 were considered eligible for analysis—6 were in breast cancer survivors and 2 in endometrial cancer. Women were recruited to participated anytime between 9.4 months to up to 4 to 5 years following diagnosis. Interventions included diet and exercise, but the method of delivery and duration of the intervention varied. Interventions included: Based on their analysis, the researchers found that while weight control and lifestyle changes are important in survivorship care, the biggest challenge is to maintain participant motivation and engagement at the end of the intervention to continue their weight-loss regimen. The other challenge with these studies, the authors wrote, is their “one-size-fits-all” approach with respect to intervention delivery, targets, and the content, which could make the intervention ineffective. The authors believe that researchers need to develop a more personalized approach to weight loss and lifestyle interventions.

Additional research conducted by these authors by mining ongoing trials, on and the International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number Registry, identified several ongoing randomized controlled clinical trials, which they believe “will potentially provide definitive assessment on whether weight loss can improve clinical outcome in female cancer survivors.”
Chlebowski RT, Reeves MM. Weight loss randomized intervention trials in female cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34(35):4238-4248. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.69.4026.
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