Clinical Implications of Sarcopenic Obesity in Cancer

Curr Oncol Rep. 2016 Oct;18(10):62. doi: 10.1007/s11912-016-0546-5.


Sarcopenia has been associated with several negative clinical outcomes in cancer. However, the consequences of sarcopenic obesity, a condition of combined sarcopenia and obesity burden, have been less extensively investigated. The aim of this paper was to review the current evidence on the prevalence and clinical implications of sarcopenic obesity in cancer. A total of 14 studies linking sarcopenic obesity to a clinical outcome in cancer were included. There is considerable inconsistency in methods used to evaluate body composition as well as in the criteria used to define sarcopenic obesity, which limits comparison among studies. Therefore, the prevalence of sarcopenic obesity varied substantially: between 1 and 29 % in studies including individuals from all body mass index categories and between 15 and 36 % for those including obese individuals only. Negative clinical outcomes reported to be associated with sarcopenic obesity included higher risk of dose-limiting toxicity, surgical complications, physical disability, and shorter survival.

Keywords: Body composition; Cancer; Chemotherapy toxicity; Morbidity; Sarcopenic obesity; Survival.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Body Composition
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Sarcopenia / complications*
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome