, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 285-290

Changes in body composition during breast cancer chemotherapy with the CMF‐regimen

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Weight gain is a reported problem associated with adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer and often generates psychosocial stress in women [1]. It also may affect prognosis and survival. Changes in body composition and weight during chemotherapy, particularly adjuvant treatment of breast carcinoma, have been previously reported [1–3]. Multiple reasons for this weight gain have been suggested though few theories have been scientifically validated [4].

The aim of this study was to investigate body composition and its relationship to weight change associated with the CMF‐based breast cancer chemotherapy protocols. Total body nitrogen (TBN), body fat, total body water (TBW), and anthropometric measurements were conducted on 25 female out‐patients (median age 47, range 26–70 years) receiving adjuvant CMF‐based chemotherapy for breast cancer. Total body nitrogen was measured using the In Vivo Neutron Capture Analysis (IVNCA) technique (on day 1 of cycles 2–6) and TBP was calculated by multiplying TBN by 6.25 [5]. Nitrogen Index (NI) was calculated by expressing TBN as a percentage of normal.

There was a significant increase in mean body weight during chemotherapy of 2.35 kg (p<0.0001). Serial measurements showed no significant change in mean TBN, NI, or percentage body fat. Break down of body weight showed a significant increase in mean TBW of 0.79 kg (p=0.003) and mean fat mass of 1.49 kg (p=0.008).

We conclude that weight gain observed during adjuvant chemotherapy for breast carcinoma is primarily due to an increase in fat and TBW.