Altered tissue electric properties in lung cancer patients as detected by bioelectric impedance vector analysis

Nutrition. 2000 Feb;16(2):120-4. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(99)00230-0.


Modifications of body composition are frequent in cancer patients. Bioelectric impedance analysis can specifically detect changes in tissue electric properties, which may be associated with outcome. We evaluated the distribution of the impedance vectors from 63 adult male patients with lung cancer, stages IIIB (33 patients) and IV (30 patients), in supportive therapy. Body weight change over the previous 6 m.o. was the same in both groups (stable/increased 36% and decreased in 62%). Patients were compared with 56 healthy subjects matched for gender, age, and body mass index (25 kg/m2). Impedance measurements (standard tetrapolar electrode placement on the hand and foot) were made with 50-kHz alternating currents. The resistance and reactance of the vector components were standardized by the height of the subjects and were plotted as resistance/reactance graphs. The impedance vector distribution was the same in patients with either stage IIIB or IV cancer. The mean vector position differed significantly between cancer patients and control subjects (Hotelling T2 test, P < 0.01) because of a reduced reactance component (i.e., a smaller phase angle) with preserved resistance component in both cancer groups. Patients with a phase angle smaller than 4.5 degrees had a significantly shorter, i.e., 18 m.o., survival. Body weight loss was not significantly associated with survival. In conclusion, impedance vectors from lung cancer patients were characterized by a reduced reactance component. The altered tissue electric properties were more predictive than weight loss of prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Impedance*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis