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Clinical trial in Virginia to study if weight loss can keep breast cancer from returning

Massey breast cancer.PNG
Posted at 2:30 PM, Jan 07, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. — The new year often brings new resolutions and losing weight usually tops the list.

"So, January becomes a great time to be able to say here's my resolution to get well," Dr. Mary Helen Hackney, Massey Cancer oncologist said.

A clinical trial at VCU Massey Cancer Center is looking at more than just losing weight. It's looking to see if weight loss among women with breast cancer can prevent the disease from returning.

"Anytime you have a breast cancer recurrence, that becomes more challenging to treat," Hackney said.

That's because sometimes the recurrence could be metastatic which means cancer could spread to other parts of the body.

Dr. Hackney is leading the Breast Cancer Weight Loss (BWEL) study.

The study began in 2016, but doctors want to enroll more women. Nearly 3,200 overweight and obese women will be enrolled in the United States and Canada.

The BWEL study is looking for patients who have:

  • Stage two or three breast cancer
  • Currently getting treatment for breast cancer
  • Be HER2 Negative
  • Body Mass Index of 27 or higher

"Obesity especially in the post-menopausal women puts you at an increased risk of breast cancer," Hackney said.

The trial participants will be tracked for 10 years. Study investigators will track activity and weight loss among study participants. The outcome of the study could lead to standard treatment for millions of breast cancer patients.

If you are interested in participating in the BWEL study, contact Gwen Parker at 804-828-5090 or

This story was first reported by Reba Hollingsworth at WTVR in Richmond, Virginia.