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.


Journal article


Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology

Publication Date





101 - 112


Cancer Sciences Academic Unit and University of Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust, Tremona Road, Southampton


POSH Study Steering Group, Humans, Breast Neoplasms, Obesity, Receptor, erbB-2, Receptors, Prostaglandin, Receptors, Estrogen, Body Mass Index, Disease-Free Survival, Treatment Outcome, Cohort Studies, Prospective Studies, Adolescent, Adult, Great Britain, Female, Young Adult