Obesity is a known risk factor for invasive breast cancers that occur post-menopause. Obese women also die twice as frequently from breast cancer than those of normal weight. Numerous preclinical studies show the benefits of caloric restriction on cancer progression in animals - but, will similar effects be seen in humans? In response to a call for translational studies that will identify biological/biobehavioral pathways through which weight loss may affect cancer prognosis (PAR-12-229), we propose a pilot study that builds on our success of pre-surgical interventions to answer the research question, """"""""does negative energy balance with concomitant weight loss invoke anti-cancer effects on tumor biology and the host environment?"""""""" We will randomly assign 40 overweight or obese postmenopausal women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) (a precursor to invasive cancer) who elect mastectomy or lumpectomy to 1-of-2 study arms: 1) an Attention Control Group that receives instruction on dietary approaches to correct nutritional deficiencies and progressive resistance training (PRT) that targets the arm ipsilateral to the affected breast;or 2 an Experimental Group that will receive PRT and guidance to correct nutritional deficiencies plus an intensive intervention to promote a 1.5-2 pound/week weight loss through diet, exercise, and behavior modification. This study will explore and contrast changes in body mass index (BMI) observed from enrollment to the time of surgery in the experimental vs. attention control arms, and also monitor changes in energy intake and physical activity. These changes will be studied in relation to the following endpoints: a) changes in select circulating biomarkers and gene expression related to cancer progression, hormonal status, inflammation and other energy-related factors;b) rates of tumor proliferation and apoptosis;c) tumor markers, e.g., insulin receptor, VEGF, AKT, NFkB, and phosphoproteins associated with the Convergence of Hormones, Inflammation and Energy-Rated Factors (CHIEF) pathway;and d) functional and health-related outcomes. Because both tumor tissue and blood will be examined from pre-to-post-intervention, this study will provide exciting new data that can elucidate pathways by which energy balance affects breast cancer progression from a non-invasive to an invasive state. Although longer term weight loss is recommended for overweight and obese breast cancer survivors, it is not known whether placing the body in a state of negative energy balance will have a favorable impact on the tumor. If beneficial changes in tumor biology and the host environment occur with short-term, pre-surgical weight loss, this study provides proof of concept that weight loss may offer an acceptable and complementary treatment option that could be combined with active surveillance for longer term management. Thus, the research that is proposed will not only increase our understanding of the impact of negative energy balance on tumor biology, but could change the standard of care and offer a more conservative treatment option for the 50,000 American women who are diagnosed with DCIS each year.

Public Health Relevance

Obesity is strongly related to breast cancer that occurs after menopause, and also is associated with cancer progression. Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) provides a reasonable model to explore mechanisms by which obesity and weight loss may affect neoplasia. This project will explore the feasibility and potential impact of presurgical weight loss on serum biomarkers, tumor characteristics and clinical outcomes of overweight and obese patients with DCIS.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-PSE-K (57))
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Alfano, Catherine M
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Allied Health Profes
United States
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