BACKGROUND: Computed tomography (CT) is often used to investigate muscle and fat mass in adult patients with cancer. However, this method has rarely been used in the pediatric cancer population. The present retrospective study aimed to investigate changes in body composition using CT during treatment in children with neuroblastoma.
PROCEDURE: CT images of 29 patients with high-risk neuroblastoma were retrospectively analyzed at diagnosis and longitudinally during treatment. The cross-sectional area of skeletal muscle, intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and skeletal muscle density at the level of the third lumbar vertebra were examined. To correct for height, cross-sectional areas were divided by height in meters squared. A linear mixed model was estimated to investigate changes in body composition over time.
RESULTS: A small increase in skeletal muscle (p = .029), skeletal muscle density (p = .002), and IMAT (p < .001) was found. Furthermore, a rapid increase in VAT (p < .001) and SAT (p = .001) was seen early during treatment with the highest volumes after six cycles of chemotherapy.
CONCLUSIONS: CT scans obtained during standard care provide insight into the direction and timing of changes in skeletal muscle and different types of adipose tissue in childhood cancer patients. Future research is needed regarding the consequences of the rapid increase of VAT and SAT early during treatment.