Breast cancer risk status influences uptake, retention and efficacy of a weight loss programme amongst breast cancer screening attendees: two randomised controlled feasibility trials

BMC Cancer. 2019 Dec 4;19(1):1089. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-6279-8.


Background: Excess body weight and sub-optimal lifestyle are modifiable causes of breast cancer and other diseases. There is little evidence that behaviour change is possible within screening programmes and whether this is influenced by prior knowledge of disease risk. We determined whether breast cancer risk influences uptake, retention and efficacy of a weight control programme in the UK National Health Service Breast Screening Programme, and whether additional cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes risk information improves uptake and retention further.

Method: Overweight/obese women in the UK National Health Service Breast Screening Programme identified at high, moderately increased, average and low-risk of breast cancer were randomised to receive individualised breast cancer risk information (breast cancer prevention programme), or individualised breast cancer, cardiovascular disease (QRISK2) and type 2 diabetes (QDiabetes, HbA1c) information (multiple disease prevention programme). Personalised breast cancer risk feedback was given before randomisation in Study-1, and after randomisation in Study-2.

Results: Recruitment was 9% (126/1356) in Study-1 and 7% (52/738) in Study-2. With respect to breast cancer risk, odds ratio of uptake for high/moderately increased vs low risk women was 1.99 (95% CI 1.24-3.17, P = 0.004) in Study-1 and 3.58 (95% CI 1.59-8.07, P = 0.002) in Study-2. Odds ratio of retention for high/moderately increased -risk vs. low risk women was 2.98 (95% CI 1.05-8.47, P = 0.041) in Study-1 and 3.88 (95% CI 1.07-14.04, P = 0.039) in Study-2. Weight loss of ≥5% at 12 months was achieved by 63% high/moderate vs. 43% low-risk women in Study-1 (P = 0.083) and 39% vs. 8% in Study-2 (P = 0.008). Uptake, retention and weight loss were equivalent in both the breast cancer prevention programme and the multiple disease prevention programme in both studies.

Conclusions: Women who are informed that they are at increased breast cancer risk were significantly more likely to join and remain in the programmes and consequently lose more weight across both studies. High risk women are more likely engage in a lifetyle prevention programme and also have the greatest potential benefit fom risk reduction strategies.

Trial registration: ISRCTN91372184 Registered 28 September 2014.

Keywords: Breast screening programme; Risk information; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*