Women need individualised help with weight after endometrial cancer

Women recovering from endometrial cancer require health professionals to provide them with individualised weight management plans to assist with their recovery, a University of Queensland study has shown.

UQ’s Professor Monika Janda said endometrial cancer was the most common sub-type of womb cancer and survivors often had issues with obesity and weight gain before and following treatment.

“Being obese or overweight is a major risk factor for endometrial cancer and even nine years after surgery, we found that the vast majority of the women were not content with their current weight,” Professor Janda said.

This topic is important for women as they also have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions if they’re overweight.

The study investigated weight perceptions among long-term endometrial cancer survivors and what weight control methods women used.

“We asked what weight management plans they followed and they had tried all kinds of different diets that you can think of, except very few tried fasting,” Professor Janda said.

“Findings from this study suggest there is a need for health professionals and lifestyle educators to develop tailored and individualised diet and weight management plans to address the specific needs of long-term survivors following treatment for endometrial cancer.

“One of the key activities in this research was to investigate why they found it so hard to lose weight and how this could be made easier.

“They suggested that it would be good to have peer support or counselling at the time of surgery – someone who had been through the same process to support them.”

The study surveyed 259 women who were on average nine years post-surgery.

Professor Janda, who leads the Behavioural Science Unit at UQ’s Centre for Health Services Research, said the data in the current paper was a long-term follow-up of an original trial with 760 women.

“The original trial was a surgical trial which compared open abdominal surgery with laparoscopic surgery, which is keyhole surgery,” she said.

“That trial showed that laparoscopic surgery gives women better quality of life, we then followed these women to determine who still had adverse events following their laparoscopic surgery.

“We found that the women who were overweight or obese were at greater risk of complications after surgery, so we asked them in the follow-up what they do about weight loss, and that is what inspired this new paper.”

The research is published in Cancer Medicine (DOI: 10.1002/cam4.4032).

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