ASCO Reading Room | Telehealth weight loss pilot program for breast cancer survivors with obesity

In this exclusive video, Julia Tchou, MD, PhD, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about her recent study reported to the ASCO Annual Meeting to assess the effectiveness of telehealth appointments for weight loss in obese breast cancer survivors.

Here is a transcript of his remarks:

My name is Julia Tchou. I come from the University of Pennsylvania.

We have initiated a single-arm pilot study to examine the use of telehealth platforms to deliver a weight loss intervention program to our breast cancer survivors who suffer from obesity. Our pilot cohort is composed of 11 patients. For 24 weeks, they received a weekly counseling session. The program was well received and feasible and acceptable, and there was an average weight loss of 6.5% in this cohort, which is clinically significant.

So in the future, we would like to understand how we can enroll more patients and keep them in the program, as well as ensure that our patient population includes more underrepresented patients, who are disproportionately affected by the urban obesity.

These are breast cancer patients who have completed all of their treatment surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. They must be 6 months absent and disease free, and they must be obese to enroll, which is defined as a BMI [body mass index] 25 years or older. They are contacted by phone, they consent to it by phone and all visits are done virtually; they don’t need to be in person.

This is a group telehealth format, so we believe we will be able to disseminate the weight loss program widely within our healthcare system, as well as across the country. We hope our healthcare system will embrace this program and roll it out to more patients with all types of illnesses.

Ryan H. Bowman