New ASCO Guide for Patients Helps Obese Cancer Patients Understand Optimal Weight-Based Chemotherapy Dosing

What to Know: ASCO’s Guideline on Chemotherapy Doses for Obese Patients With Cancer” accompanies ASCO’s recent clinical guideline on chemotherapy dosing for obese patients and can be found on ASCO’s award-winning patient information website, Cancer.Net.

ASCO’s clinical guideline, released on April 2, recommends that physicians use an obese patient’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 patients 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 patients 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 patients without raising the risk of side effects.

The new patient guide provides background information on the recommendations, explains what those recommendations mean for patients, and suggests specific questions patients can ask their doctors about receiving the best treatment for their weight and physical condition. 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?

“For obese patients, receiving chemotherapy dose based on actual weight can be crucial to the success of their cancer treatment, without increasing the side effects they experience,” said Gary H. Lyman, MD, MPH, Co-Chair of the ASCO Expert Panel that drafted the guideline, and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology at the Duke Cancer Institutes. “It is important for patients to discuss this issue with their health care teams, and we feel this patient guide will provide great assistance in doing so.”

For more information on the new guideline, please go to:

About ASCO
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit Patient-oriented cancer information is available at

About Cancer.Net
( brings the expertise and resources of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the voice of the world’s cancer physicians, to people living with cancer and those who care for and care about them. ASCO is composed of more than 30,000 members who are the leaders in advancing cancer care. All the information and content on Cancer.Net was developed and approved by the cancer doctors who are members of ASCO, making Cancer.Net an up-to-date and trusted resource for cancer information on the Internet. Cancer.Net is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which provides funding for breakthrough cancer research, professional education, and patient and family support.

Aaron Tallent
[email protected]