Quantitative measures of visceral adiposity and body mass index in predicting rectal cancer outcomes after neoadjuvant chemoradiation

J Am Coll Surg. 2013 Jun;216(6):1070-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2013.01.007. Epub 2013 Mar 21.


Background: The association between body mass index as a measure of obesity and rectal cancer outcomes has been inconsistent. Radiologic measures of visceral adiposity using CT scans have not been well characterized among rectal cancer patients. The objective of this study was to examine quantitative radiologic measures of visceral obesity compared with body mass index in predicting patient outcomes among patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiation and resection for locally advanced rectal cancers.

Study design: We identified 99 rectal adenocarcinoma patients treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation and surgical resection. Visceral and subcutaneous fat areas, as well as perinephric fat thickness (PNF), were recorded and categorized as obese (body mass index ≥30, visceral fat area to subcutaneous fat area ratio [V/S] ≥0.4, or median PNF). The Kaplan-Meier method, log-rank test, and Cox proportional hazards models evaluated overall and disease-free survival differences by adiposity.

Results: Viscerally obese rectal cancer patients (V/S >0.4 or PNF) were more likely to be older, male, and have pre-existing obesity-related conditions (eg, diabetes, hypertension, and/or hypercholesterolemia). Elevated V/S or PNF was associated with shorter disease-free survival (p = 0.02) or overall survival time (p = 0.047), respectively. Among patients with well to moderately differentiated tumors, visceral obesity was associated with poorer disease-free survival (V/S >0.4: adjusted hazard ratio = 5.0; 95% CI, 1.2-22.0).

Conclusions: Visceral fat area to subcutaneous fat area ratio and PNF were strongly associated with key preoperative metabolic comorbidities, and body mass index was not. Findings suggests that elevated visceral adiposity was associated with an increased risk of recurrence, which was most evident among patients with well to moderately differentiated tumors and those with incomplete response to neoadjuvant chemoradiation treatment. Quantitative measures of visceral adiposity warrant large-scale prospective evaluation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / complications
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy*
  • Adiposity*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Chemoradiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colectomy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Rectal Neoplasms / complications
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*