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J Clin Oncol. 1996 Nov;14(11):3000-8.

Relationship between toxicity and obesity in women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: results from cancer and leukemia group B study 8541.

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  • 1Cancer and Leukemia Group B Statistical Office, Durham, NC, USA. GROSNER@CCSTAT.DU



We examined data from a large clinical trial to determine if chemotherapy dosing according to actual body weight places obese patients at greater risk of toxicity.


Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) study 8541, a randomized study of schedule and dose of adjuvant cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and fluorouracil (CAF) for stage II breast cancer patients with positive regional lymph nodes, provided data on 1,435 women for analysis. Using body-mass index (BMI), we classified a woman as obese if her BMI was > or = 27.3 kg/m2; doses were considered weight-based if within 5% of values calculated using actual weight. Our primary analysis concerned toxicity risks during cycle 1.


Among women who received weight-based doses of the most dose-intensive CAF regimen, 47% of obese and 51% of nonobese women experienced severe hematologic toxicity (grade > or = 3) during cycle 1 (P = .51, two-tailed). The overall risk ratio (obese v nonobese) of treatment failure among women who received weight-based doses during cycle 1 was 1.02 (95% confidence interval, 0.83 to 1.26), stratified by treatment and adjusted for number of positive nodes, menopausal status, hormone receptor status, and tumor size. The overall adjusted failure risk ratio (weight-based v reduced initial doses) was 0.73 (95% confidence interval, 0.53 to 1.00) among obese women.


Obese patients initially dosed (within 5%) by actual weight did not experience excess cycle 1 toxicity or worse outcome compared with nonobese women dosed similarly. The data suggest that obese women who received reduced doses in cycle 1 experienced worse failure-free survival. We recommend that initial doses of CAF be computed according to actual body weight.

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