Breast Cancer and Obesity: a Qualitative Analysis of a Diverse Population of Breast Cancer Patients' Perspectives on Weight Management

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2024 Apr;11(2):826-833. doi: 10.1007/s40615-023-01564-y. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Purpose: Obesity and weight gain in breast cancer survivors leads to a greater risk of recurrence and a decreased chance of survival. A paucity of data exists regarding strengths, weaknesses, and barriers for implementing culturally sensitive, patient-centered interventions for weight management among minority communities. The objective of this study was to evaluate breast cancer patients' experience and perspectives regarding weight management in a racially diverse population.

Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with breast cancer patients with a body mass index ≥ 25 kg/m2 regarding their experience with weight management. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and a thematic analysis was conducted.

Results: Participants (n = 17) most commonly self-identified as non-Hispanic Black (70.6%). Nearly all participants felt comfortable being approached about weight management, yet less than half (41.2%) reported that they knew about the link between breast cancer and body weight prior to the interview. Four themes emerged: (1) lack of knowledge regarding the link between body weight and breast cancer risk, (2) barriers to weight management including family stressors, high cost, mental health issues, and chronic medical conditions, (3) previous attempts at weight loss including bariatric surgery, and (4) best practices for approaching weight management including discussion of weight management prior to survivorship.

Conclusion: There is a need for a multidisciplinary, patient-centered weight management program for minority breast cancer patients that improves awareness of the link between weight and breast cancer risk. Weight management should be introduced early on as an element of the treatment plan for breast cancer.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Disparities; Obesity; Weight management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Weight Loss