The following article features coverage from the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

A study presented at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is suggesting that paying greater attention to metabolic factors may help improve outcomes in postmenopausal women with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). TNBC is a subtype of breast cancer that is associated with poor clinical outcomes. Researchers found that women diagnosed with TNBC may experience many treatment-associated changes, such as weight gain, reduced physical activity levels, and worsening metabolic profiles, and these changes may be more significant than previously recognized.

Researchers analyzed the association between baseline metabolic syndrome components and survival outcomes in women diagnosed with TNBC participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). There were 161,308 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 who were enrolled in WHI and were at low risk for 3-year mortality at study screening between 1993 and 1998. The researchers excluded women with a history of cancer and those who had been randomly assigned to the dietary modification treatment arm and identified 615 women diagnosed with nonmetastatic TNBC while on the study.

The researchers found that 29% of the women (178 patients) had no metabolic syndrome components, 53% had 1 to 2 components (323 patients), and 7% had 3 to 4 components (43 patients). When the team looked at the median time from enrollment to TNBC diagnosis, they found it was 8.6 years and those women with the most metabolic components had a significantly shorter time to diagnosis than those without any metabolic syndrome components (7.0 years vs 9.8 years; P <.001).

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The study revealed that those with the most metabolic syndrome components were more often black. In addition, the researchers found that income mattered. Patients whose income was less than $50,000 a year were more likely to have a greater number of metabolic components. Women who had more metabolic components also tended to have lower rates of menopausal hormone therapy use at baseline.

The researchers found that all-cause mortality was significantly influenced by metabolic syndrome. Women with TNBC and 3 to 4 metabolic components had 10-year all-cause survival rates that were more than 35% lower than TNBC survivors with no metabolic syndrome components. The researchers concluded that greater attention may be warranted when it comes to identifying and treating components of metabolic syndrome in women with TBNC.


Yuan Y, Nelson R, Pan K, et al. Metabolic syndrome impacts survival in postmenopausal women with triple negative breast cancer: Results from the women’s health initiative. Poster presentation at: 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; December 10-14, 2019; San Antonio, TX. Abstract P5-07-03.