Weight Loss and Cancer Recurrence to Be Evaluated by Dana-Farber

A collaboration between the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the fitness tracking company Fitbit will investigate whether weight loss in women diagnosed with breast cancer can stave off recurrence.

A collaboration between the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the fitness tracking company Fitbit, will investigate whether weight loss in women diagnosed with breast cancer can stave off recurrence.

The trial is expected to enroll nearly 3200 women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, who are classified either as overweight or obese, in the Breast Cancer Weight Loss (BWEL) study across North America. Disease recurrence is commonly experienced by nearly 20% of women who have breast cancer, and obesity has been identified as a common driver of malignancy in these women, and consequently poor prognosis. However, BWEL would be the first study to query whether obesity is responsible for disease recurrence in these patients.

Weight loss will be documented by Fitbit Charge HR, a fitness tracker, and participant weight will be monitored with Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale that tracks weight, body mass index, lean mass, and body fat percentage over time. The scale can synch with Web-based platforms to document the data. This will also help health coaches remotely track the progress—or not—of each participant.

Trial participants will receive a 2-year weight loss intervention in addition to a health education program or participate in the education program alone, as a control. Health coaches, for patients who receive the intervention, will remotely work with patients on an exercise routine and their diet.

“The increased risk of cancer recurrence linked to excess body weight threatens to limit our progress in treating breast cancer and preventing women from dying from this disease,” said Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a breast oncologist at Dana-Farber, and lead investigator of the BWEL trial, in a statement. “If this study shows that losing weight through increasing physical activity and reducing calories improves survival rates in breast cancer, this could lead to weight loss and physical activity becoming a standard part of the treatment for millions of breast cancer patients around the world.”