(HealthDay News) – For patients with node-positive breast cancer, body mass index (BMI) at the time of diagnosis is associated with relapse-free and overall survival.

Jennifer Ligibel, MD, from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues investigated the association between BMI at diagnosis of breast cancer and outcomes for 1,909 patients with lymph node-positive breast cancer, among 2,005 patients enrolled in CALGB 9741, an adjuvant study in which patients received chemotherapy based on their actual body weight. All patients were treated with doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, and paclitaxel, based on body surface area.

During a median follow-up of 11 years, the investigators found that, in adjusted analyses, BMI was significantly correlated with relapse-free and overall survival (P=0.01 and 0.022, respectively). Ten-year relapse-free survival for a patient with a BMI of 25kg/m² was about 70%, compared with 65% for a patient with a BMI of 35kg/m².

“We found a modest linear relationship between BMI and outcome in node-positive breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy,” the authors write. “Obesity, an increasing public health concern, is a modifiable factor; additional research is needed to determine the impact of weight loss on breast cancer outcomes.”

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