Obesity and breast cancer outcomes in chemotherapy patients in New Zealand – a population-based cohort study

18 January 2018
Mark Elwood, Sandar Tin Tin, Marion Kuper-Hommel, Ross Lawrenson and Ian Campbell

Obesity has been reported as an adverse prognostic factor in breast cancer, but inconsistently, and under-treatment with chemotherapy may occur. We provide the first assessment of obesity and breast cancer outcomes in a population-based, multi-ethnic cohort of New Zealand patients treated with chemotherapy.

All 3536 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the Waikato region of New Zealand from 2000-2014 were registered and followed until last follow-up in specialist or primary care, death or Dec 2014; median follow-up 4.1 years. For the 1049 patients receiving chemotherapy,  mortality from breast cancer, other causes, and all causes, and rates of loco-regional and of distant recurrence, were assessed by body mass index (BMI), recorded after diagnosis, adjusting for other clinico-pathological and demographic factors by Cox regression.

BMI was known for 98% (n=1049); 33% were overweight (BMI 25-29.9), 21% were obese (BMI 30-34.9), and 14% were very obese (BMI 35+). There were no significant associations between obesity and survival, after adjustment for demographic and clinical factors (hazard ratios, HR, for very obese compared to BMI 21-24, for breast cancer deaths 0.96 (0.56-1.67), and for all deaths 1.03 (0.63-1.67), respectively, and only small non-significant associations for loco-regional or metastatic recurrence rates (HR 1.17 and 1.33 respectively). Subgroup analyses by age, menopausal status, ethnicity, stage, post-surgical radiotherapy, mode of diagnosis, type of surgery, and receptor status, showed no associations. No associations were seen with BMI as a continuous variable. The results in all patients irrespective of treatment but with recorded BMI data (n=2296) showed similar results.

In this population, obesity assessed post-diagnosis had no effect on survival or recurrence, based on 1049 patients with chemotherapy treatment with follow-up up to 14 years.