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BACKGROUND: Obese breast cancer patients have a poorer prognosis than non-obese patients. We examined data from a large prospective cohort study to explore the associations of obesity with tumour pathology, treatment and outcome in young British breast cancer patients receiving modern oncological treatments. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 2956 patients aged ≤40 at breast cancer diagnosis were recruited from 126 UK hospitals from 2001 to 2007. Height and weight were measured at registration. Tumour pathology and treatment details were collected. Follow-up data were collected at 6, 12 months, and annually. RESULTS: A total of 2843 eligible patients (96.2%) had a body mass index (BMI) recorded: 1526 (53.7%) were under/healthy-weight (U/H, BMI <25 kg/m(2)), 784 (27.6%) were overweight (ov, BMI ≥25 to <30), and 533 (18.7%) were obese (ob, BMI ≥30). The median tumour size was significantly higher in obese and overweight patients than U/H patients (Ob 26 mm versus U/H 20 mm, P < 0.001; Ov 24 mm versus U/H 20 mm, P < 0.001). Obese and overweight patients had significantly more grade 3 tumours (63.9% versus 59.0%, P = 0.048; Ov 63.6% versus U/H 59.0% P = 0.034) and node-positive tumours (Ob 54.6% versus U/H 49.0%, P = 0.027; Ov 54.2% versus U/H 49%, P = 0.019) than U/H patients. Obese patients had more ER/PR/HER2-negative tumours than healthy-weight patients (25.0% versus 18.3%, P = 0.001). Eight-year overall survival (OS) and distant disease-free interval (DDFI) were significantly lower in obese patients than healthy-weight patients [OS: hazard ratio (HR) 1.65, P < 0.001; DDFI: HR 1.44, P < 0.001]. Multivariable analyses adjusting for tumour grade, size, nodal, and HER2 status indicated that obesity was a significant independent predictor of OS and DDFI in patients with ER-positive disease. CONCLUSIONS: Young obese breast cancer patients present with adverse tumour characteristics. Despite adjustment for this, obesity still independently predicts DDFI and OS.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann oncol

Publication Date





101 - 112


breast cancer, obesity, prognosis, Adolescent, Adult, Body Mass Index, Breast Neoplasms, Cohort Studies, Disease-Free Survival, Female, Humans, Obesity, Prospective Studies, Receptor, ErbB-2, Receptors, Estrogen, Receptors, Prostaglandin, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom, Young Adult