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A higher BMI at the time of diagnosis has no effect on clinical outcomes for people with HER-2-positive breast cancer

An Italian study has shown that BMI score does not influence survival rates for patients with breast cancer


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In contrast with previous findings, a retrospective cohort study carried out in Italy has found no negative effect of body mass index (BMI) at the time of diagnosis on clinical outcomes for patients with HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

Using data from 329 consecutive patients with HER-2-positive breast cancer attending one of 14 centres over a median three-year follow-up period, researchers examined the effect of BMI at diagnosis on clinical outcomes. The patients were grouped according to their initial BMI. Those with a BMI <25.0 were categorised as normal or underweight following World Health Organization classifications, and those with a BMI >25 were considered overweight or obese. There were no other significant differences in the patients' baseline demographic characteristics and they all received first-line trastuzumab-based therapy.

Median progression-free survival was 14.8 months in the BMI <25 study group and 15.7 months among the patients classified as overweight or obese. Similarly, there was little difference in the median overall survival, which was 58.6 months and 52.6 months in the BMI <25 and BMI >25 groups respectively.

The researchers note the limitations of BMI as a means of evaluating body fat, but suggest that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle are beneficial, even if there may not be an obvious improvement in outcomes for malignant breast disease.


Martel S, Poletto E, Ferreira AR et al (2018) Impact of body mass index on the clinical outcomes of patients with HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer. The Breast. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2017.11.004

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