Background: Obesity, defined by body mass index (BMI), measured at colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosis has been associated with postoperative complications and survival outcomes. However, BMI does not allow for a differentiation between fat and muscle mass. Computed tomography (CT)-defined body composition more accurately reflects different types of tissue and their associations with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) during the first year of disease, but this has not been investigated yet. We studied the role of visceral and subcutaneous fat area (VFA and SFA) and skeletal muscle mass (SMM) on longitudinally assessed HRQoL in CRC patients.
Methods: A total of 138 newly diagnosed CRC patients underwent CT scans at diagnosis and completed questionnaires prior to and six and twelve months post-surgery. We investigated the associations of VFA, SFA, and SMM with HRQoL at multiple time points.
Results: A higher VFA was associated with increased pain six and twelve months post-surgery (β = 0.06, p = 0.04 and β = 0.07, p = 0.01) and with worse social functioning six months post-surgery (β = -0.08, p = 0.01). Higher SMM was associated with increased pain twelve months post-surgery (β = 1.03, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: CT-quantified body composition is associated with HRQoL scales post-surgery. Intervention strategies targeting a reduction in VFA and maintaining SMM might improve HRQoL in CRC patients during the first year post-surgery.
Keywords: CT-quantified body composition; colorectal cancer; health-related quality of life; prospective data; skeletal muscle mass; subcutaneous fat area; visceral fat area.