Weight before and after a diagnosis of breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ: a national Australian survey

With over 2 million new cases of breast cancer (BC) globally in 2018, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and in Australia. One known risk factor for BC is obesity; weight gain post-diagnosis is associated with greater morbidity and mortality. This study explored the prevalence of overweight/obesity and the pattern of weight gain after diagnosis of BC or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) among Australian women. Information was collected through an anonymous self-administered online survey from women with breast cancer living in Australia.  The study found that 63.7% of women reported weight gain after diagnosis with an average increase of 9.07 kg. Half gained 5 kg or more, 17% gained over 20 kg and 60.7% experienced an increase in BMI. Of those who gained weight, more than half reported that this occurred during the first year after diagnosis, and over half of the women cited significant concerns over their weight gain. This is the first national survey conducted in Australia to explore weight gain after BC diagnosis, and these results suggest that women in Australia gain a substantial amount of weight after BC/DCIS diagnosis. Given that weight gain after BC may lead to poorer outcomes, these results have demonstrated that prevention and management of weight gain must be prioritized, particularly in the first year after diagnosis.

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