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Weight Loss Program Aims to Pinpoint Role of Obesity in Breast Cancer

Angelica Welch
Published: Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017

Jennifer Ligibel, MD

Jennifer Ligibel, MD

Obesity has long been linked to poor outcomes in various cancers, including breast cancer. Studies have shown that weight can affect a patient’s risk of recurrence and mortality, driving researchers to develop weight loss intervention techniques for this at-risk population.

, lead investigator Jennifer Ligibel, MD, senior physician, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, describes the BWEL trial and the possible impact of weight loss intervention for patients with breast cancer.

OncLive: Please describe the BWEL trial.

Ligibel: The BWEL trial is a study that is designed to looked at the impact of a telephone-based weight loss program on the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality in overweight and obese women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The trial is being conducted throughout he National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) and the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program. The Canadian [Cancer] Trials group has also joined the effort.

The trial will enroll 3200 women from the United States and Canada who have been diagnosed with stage II or III breast cancer that have finished their standard therapy—chemotherapy, radiation, surgery—and then randomize them to a 2-year telephone-based weight loss program or to a usual care control group. The study will look at the impact of the intervention on invasive disease-free survival—so, risk of recurrence distantly and locally, second breast cancer, other new cancer primary, or death from any cause. The study will also look at overall survival and the impact of the intervention on the incidence of things such as heart disease, diabetes, looking at quality of life and weight change of patients on the trial.

Can you explain the telephone intervention?

The weight loss program is a telephone-based program, which is delivered by health coaches. The program is based on other large-scale weight loss programs like the Diabetes Prevention Program, or a study in breast cancer patients called the LISA trial. Each patient is paired with a health coach who works with them through the 2-year time period. 
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