Determinants of newly diagnosed comorbidities among breast cancer survivors



Comorbid conditions have become increasingly relevant for breast cancer care given the large numbers of long-term survivors. Our aim was to identify potential determinants associated with the development of comorbidities after breast cancer.


Self-reported comorbidities and lifestyle were assessed at recruitment and after a median follow up of 69.4 months from diagnosis in a population-based cohort of breast cancer cases aged 50 to 74 years at diagnosis (MARIEplus study). Tumor and therapy data were extracted from medical records. Determinants potentially associated with incident diagnoses of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and osteoporosis were assessed using multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression models.


Follow-up interview was completed by 2,542 women (76.4 % of eligible patients). A diagnosis of hypertension was significantly associated with age, higher education (hazard ratio (HR) 0.54, CI 0.37–0.79), baseline body mass index (BMI; ≥30 kg/m2; HR, 1.90; CI, 1.24–2.90), and trastuzumab medication (HR, 2.16; CI, 1.09–4.33). An increased risk for CVD was associated with age, BMI, and intake of aromatase inhibitors (AI; HR, 1.42; CI, 1.09–1.84). Risk of osteoporosis was also positively associated with AI treatment (HR, 2.15; CI, 1.64–2.82) but inversely associated with a higher BMI (≥30 kg/m2; HR, 0.50; CI, 0.31–0.79).


In breast cancer survivors, treatment with AI constituted a risk factor for incident CVD and osteoporosis. Besides known risk factors, patients who were treated with trastuzumab may have an increased risk for hypertension.

Implications for cancer survivors

Reducing overweight and regular sport/cycling activities may help to prevent CVD after breast cancer. Patients should be monitored for risk factors and advised on possible cardiac side effects of AI and trastuzumab.

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The MARIEPLUS study including this work was funded by the Deutsche Krebshilfe e.V., project number 108253/108419.

We are grateful to all participants of the MARIEplus study and thank our colleagues Ursula Eilber and Till Olchers for providing excellent support in collecting and preparing the data.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Nadia Obi.

Additional information

Nadia Obi and Daniela Gornyk contributed equally to this work.

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Obi, N., Gornyk, D., Heinz, J. et al. Determinants of newly diagnosed comorbidities among breast cancer survivors. J Cancer Surviv 8, 384–393 (2014).

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  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Comorbidity
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Aromatase inhibitor
  • Trastuzumab