Weight gain during adjuvant endocrine treatment for early-stage breast cancer: What is the evidence?

K. A. Nyrop*, G. R. Williams, H. B. Muss, S. S. Shachar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Most breast cancer (BC) tumors are early stage and hormone receptor positive, where treatment generally includes adjuvant endocrine treatment (ET). Oncology providers and women about to start ET want to know about side effects, including potential weight gain. The aim of this study was a literature review to identify the independent effect of ET on post-diagnosis weight gain. Weight gain is of concern with regard to potential associations with BC recurrence, mortality, and quality of life in survivorship. We conducted a targeted review of the literature. Thirty-eight studies met our inclusion criteria. Patient-reported weight gain ranged widely from 18 to 52 % of patients in Year 1 and from 7 to 55 % in Year 5. Some studies reported categories of weight change: lost weight (9–17 %), stable weight (47–64 %), and gained weight (27–36 %). Most studies comparing ET with placebo or tamoxifen with AI reported no significant difference between the two groups. Wide-ranging and inconsistent results point to the need for further research to clarify annual weight change (loss, gain, stability) from BC diagnosis through 5 years of ET and beyond. There is also a need to explore weight change by type of ET and to explore risk factors for weight gain in women on ET, including tumor type, sociodemographic characteristics, and health behaviors. More specific information is needed to identify high-risk BC patients who could be targeted for weight management interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
University Cancer Research Fund
National Cancer InstituteK12CA120780


    • Breast cancer
    • Endocrine treatment
    • Weight gain


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