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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41380. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041380. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Obesity or overweight is associated with worse pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy among Chinese women with breast cancer.

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Department of Breast Surgery, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center/Cancer Institute, Shanghai, PR China.



To evaluate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NCT) for breast cancer among Chinese women.


A total of 307 eligible patients were assigned to receive four cycles of paclitaxel and carboplatin before standard surgery for breast cancer from 2007 to 2011 at Shanghai Cancer Hospital. The patients were categorized as obese, overweight, normal weight, or underweight based on BMI according to World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. Pathological complete response (pCR) was defined as no invasive cancer in the breast or axillary tissue. A logistic regression and the Chi-squared test were used for detecting the predictors of pCR and determining the relationship between BMI category and pCR rate in the subgroup analysis with respect to other variables.


Categorical BMI, estrogen receptor (ER), and progesterone receptor (PR) status were independent predictors of pCR according to the multivariate analysis. Patients with BMI≥25 were less likely to achieve a pCR to NCT compared with patients with BMI<25 (Odds ratio: 0.454, p = 0.033, multivariate analysis). In the subgroup analysis, the predictive value of BMI for pCR to NCT was significantly shown in post-menopausal patients (p = 0.004) and hormonal receptor status-negative patients (p = 0.038). The incidence of treatment-induced toxicity was similar among the different BMI categories.


Higher BMI was associated with worse pCR to NCT. Further approaches to investigating the mechanism of this influence of BMI on treatment response and a more appropriate schedule for calculating NCT dose for high-BMI-patients should be considered.

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