Breast Cancer Now has provided £246,101 in funding to a group of researchers exploring the relationship between body composition and chemotherapy-induced side effects among women with secondary breast cancer.

The study, led by Professor Ellen Copson of the University of Southampton, will examine the potential impact of muscle mass and body fat levels on the severity of side effects experienced during chemotherapy treatment.

Secondary breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer, is currently deemed incurable, hence, chemotherapy remains a widely-utilised treatment option.

However, it often has severe side effects, which may lead the patients to cease the treatment.

The research will involve 250 women who are about to commence their first round of chemotherapy for secondary breast cancer.

The health professionals will measure these women's body composition and grip strength, in addition to gathering information about their mental and physical health.

The process will be replicated at three and six months, providing an overview of body composition's influence on the degree and number of the side effects induced by treatment. The study will offer valuable information about changes in a patient's muscle mass and body fat levels during chemotherapy for secondary breast cancer.

Prof Copson said: “Most chemotherapy doses are calculated using height and weight, and don’t account for body composition, such as the amount of muscle mass or body fat the person has. We know that this can impact how drugs affect people and how effective they are, but this is the first time we will study this in women with secondary breast cancer.

"We want to know how body composition impacts chemotherapy and the side effects patients experience so we can use this information to better guide treatment for women.”

Dr Simon Vincent, Breast Cancer Now’s director of research, support and influencing, said: "With an estimated 61,000 people living with secondary breast cancer in the UK, research like this is crucial to ensuring that these women, who’ll be on treatment for the rest of their lives, have the best quality of life possible so they can enjoy the precious time they have left with their family and friends."

Breast Cancer Now is a charity that offers research and support for individuals living with breast cancer.

It provides a nursing helpline available at 0808 800 6000 and accept donations through their website,