Imaging modalities for measuring body composition in patients with cancer: opportunities and challenges

Urvi A. Shah, Tarah J. Ballinger, Rusha Bhandari, Christina M. Dieli-Cornwright, Kristin A. Guertin, Elizabeth A. Hibler, Faiza Kalam, Ana Elisa Lohmann, Joseph E. Ippolito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Body composition assessment (ie, the measurement of muscle and adiposity) impacts several cancer-related outcomes including treatment-related toxicities, treatment responses, complications, and prognosis. Traditional modalities for body composition measurement include body mass index, body circumference, skinfold thickness, and bioelectrical impedance analysis; advanced imaging modalities include dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography. Each modality has its advantages and disadvantages, thus requiring an individualized approach in identifying the most appropriate measure for specific clinical or research situations. Advancements in imaging approaches have led to an abundance of available data, however, the lack of standardized thresholds for classification of abnormal muscle mass or adiposity has been a barrier to adopting these measurements widely in research and clinical care. In this review, we discuss the different modalities in detail and provide guidance on their unique opportunities and challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-67
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs
Issue number61
StatePublished - May 4 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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