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Keywords:

  • Adipokines;
  • body composition;
  • breast cancer;
  • energy balance

Summary

Weight variation has been reported as a side effect of chemotherapy treatment in early breast cancer patients and has been identified as a factor of poor prognosis. Causes of weight variation during chemotherapy and mechanisms involved in the poor prognosis have been little studied. Here is reviewed the current knowledge about the main causes and mechanisms involved in body weight change. Special emphasis is placed on factors associated with weight variation which could potentially be involved in the risk of relapse in breast cancer survivors. In recent decades, some studies have investigated the causes of weight variation by studying energy balance of breast cancer patients during chemotherapy. Weight gain or loss may be the consequence of energy imbalance through different factors linked with chemotherapy, such as poor treatment tolerance, decreased muscle mass and function, or hormonal alterations. This results in body composition modifications in favour of fat gain and/or lean body mass loss. Increased adipose tissue, especially in the abdominal region, could induce metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance, through various pathways involving adipokines. These molecules have growth properties and could therefore play a role in cancer relapse. Understanding such mechanisms is key to developing preventive strategies for improving the prognosis of early-stage breast cancer patients.