Investigating Changes in Weight and Body Composition Among Women in Adjuvant Treatment for Breast Cancer: A Scoping Review

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Despite several investigations, findings on weight changes during and after adjuvant treatment for breast cancer are diverse and point in several directions.


The aims of this study were to investigate changes in weight and body composition associated with contemporary anticancer medication and to examine factors that might influence the assessment and diversity of the findings.


This article used the method of a scoping review to map the body of literature. From searching the databases PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE using MeSH terms, CINAHL terms, and Emtree, as well as free text, 19 articles were selected for further investigation.


The scoping review illustrates how findings in weight and body composition changes fluctuate over time as illustrated in 4 measure points: short term, 1 year, 18 months/2 years, and long term. The studies displayed differences regarding study designs, sample sizes, treatment regimens, measure points and techniques, and cutoff values for assessing weight changes, which make it difficult to synthesize findings and provide strong evidence for use in clinical practice.


Synthesizing findings over time illustrates the need for attention on younger premenopausal women given chemotherapy. Weight need to be monitored for at least 2 years as short-term changes may be caused by increased body water, whereas long-term changes seem to be related with increased fat mass essential for risking recurrence and early death.

Implications for Practice

The diversity in methods discloses the need for the research community to reach consensus regarding study designs for future research in this area.

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