Adiposity in Survivors of Cancer in Childhood: How is it Measured and Why Does it Matter?
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Survival of cancer in childhood is increasingly common with modern therapeutic protocols but leads frequently to adverse long-term impacts on health, including metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Changes in body composition, especially an increase in fat mass and a decrease in muscle mass, are found early in patients with pediatric cancer, persist long after treatment has been completed and seem to contribute to the development of chronic disease. This review details the effects of such changes in body composition and reviews the underlying pathophysiology of the development of sarcopenic obesity and its adverse metabolic impact. The authors discuss the particular challenges in identifying obesity accurately in survivors of pediatric cancer using available measurement techniques, given that common measures, such as body mass index, do not distinguish between muscle and adipose tissue or assess their distribution. The authors highlight the importance of a harmonized approach to the assessment of body composition in pediatric cancer survivors and early identification of risk using "gold-standard" measurements. This will improve our understanding of the significance of adiposity and sarcopenia in this population, help identify thresholds predictive of metabolic risk, and ultimately prevent or ameliorate the long-term metabolic and cardiovascular impacts on health experienced by survivors of cancer in childhood.
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