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New Guide Helps Obese People with Cancer Under­stand Optimal Weight-Based Chemotherapy Dosing


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The American Society of Clinical Oncology has released recommendations to help obese people living with cancer under­stand and discuss with their doctors the appropriate dosing of chemo­therapy for their body weight.

ASCO’s clinical guideline rec­ommends that physicians use an obese person’s actual body weight, rather than an ideal body weight or other estimate, to calculate the appropriate dose of nearly all chemotherapy drugs. Research shows that people with cancer who are obese are more likely to die from cancer than those who are not obese. This may partly reflect the fact that as many as 40 percent of obese people receive limited chemotherapy doses that are not based on actual body weight, most likely due to concerns about side effects and long-standing practice patterns. ASCO’s guideline ad­dresses these concerns, pointing to clear evidence that weight-based dosing maximizes the effectiveness of treatment for obese people with­out raising the risk of side effects.

To help doctors give their patients the best possible care, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) developed evidence-based recommendations on giving doses of chemotherapy that are based on a patient’s actual weight.

The new guideline provides background information on the recommendations, explains what those recommendations mean, and suggests questions people can ask their doctors about re­ceiving their best treatment. The questions include:

  • Have you given me a dose based on my actual weight, or a stan­dard dose?
  • Will you monitor my side effects and decrease my dose if I have side effects?
  • Will you return to the original dose after my side effects go away?

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“What to Know: ASCO’s Guideline on Chemotherapy Doses for Obese Patients With Cancer” can be found online at Cancer.Net under the Publi­cations and Resources tab.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2012.