Weight gain and unfavorable changes in body composition are common in a growing population of breast cancer survivors, but the etiology of these changes is poorly understood.
The aim of this study was to investigate relationships between weight change and symptoms of physical and psychological distress in the first 12 months of completing treatment in women who had completed treatment for breast cancer.
Physical distress and psychological distress were assessed using the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist, the Distress Thermometer, and the Fatigue Symptom Inventory.
Weight change in 28 women since the completion of treatment (mean, 6.4 ± 4.4 months) ranged from −6.0 kg to +5.2 kg (mean, −0.4 ± 3.2), with 6 women gaining and 7 women losing an average of 3.5 ± 1.0 and 5.1 ± 0.8 kg, respectively. Rotterdam mean scores for physical (17.5 ± 9.0) and psychological distress (27.1 ± 16.9) were similar to previous findings for patients with early-stage breast cancer in active treatment and appear to be markedly higher than distress levels previously reported in cancer-free adults. Distress levels, based on the Distress Thermometer, were moderate to severe in 35% of women. Fatigue was common and associated with interference in daily living for some women. Fatigue duration was negatively correlated with weight change (P = −0.46, P < .05).
Symptoms of physical and psychological distress persist for some women in the first year after completing treatment and may associate with weight change.
These findings underscore a need for ongoing assessment and supportive care across the breast cancer trajectory and may guide dietary counseling aimed at promoting healthy body weight and overall health in early survivorship.