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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1999 Oct;57(3):285-90.

Changes in body composition during breast cancer chemotherapy with the CMF-regimen.

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  • 1Center for In Vivo Body Composition, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Sydney, Australia.


Weight gain is a reported problem associated with adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer and often generates psychosocial stress in women [1]. It also may affect prognosis and survival. Changes in body composition and weight during chemotherapy, particularly adjuvant treatment of breast carcinoma, have been previously reported [1-3]. Multiple reasons for this weight gain have been suggested though few theories have been scientifically validated [4]. The aim of this study was to investigate body composition and its relationship to weight change associated with the CMF-based breast cancer chemotherapy protocols. Total body nitrogen (TBN), body fat, total body water (TBW), and anthropometric measurements were conducted on 25 female out-patients (median age 47, range 26-70 years) receiving adjuvant CMF-based chemotherapy for breast cancer. Total body nitrogen was measured using the In Vivo Neutron Capture Analysis (IVNCA) technique (on day 1 of cycles 2-6) and TBP was calculated by multiplying TBN by 6.25 [5]. Nitrogen Index (NI) was calculated by expressing TBN as a percentage of normal. There was a significant increase in mean body weight during chemotherapy of 2.35 kg (p < 0.0001). Serial measurements showed no significant change in mean TBN, NI, or percentage body fat. Break down of body weight showed a significant increase in mean TBW of 0.79 kg (p = 0.003) and mean fat mass of 1.49 kg (p = 0.008). We conclude that weight gain observed during adjuvant chemotherapy for breast carcinoma is primarily due to an increase in fat and TBW.

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