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BMC Cancer. 2008 Aug 27;8:249. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-8-249.

Bioelectrical impedance phase angle as a prognostic indicator in breast cancer.

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Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, Zion, IL, USA.



Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is an easy-to-use, non-invasive, and reproducible technique to evaluate changes in body composition and nutritional status. Phase angle, determined by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), detects changes in tissue electrical properties and has been hypothesized to be a marker of malnutrition. Since malnutrition can be found in patients with breast cancer, we investigated the prognostic role of phase angle in breast cancer.


We evaluated a case series of 259 histologically confirmed breast cancer patients treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Kaplan Meier method was used to calculate survival. Cox proportional hazard models were constructed to evaluate the prognostic effect of phase angle independent of stage at diagnosis and prior treatment history. Survival was calculated as the time interval between the date of first patient visit to the hospital and the date of death from any cause or date of last contact/last known to be alive.


Of 259 patients, 81 were newly diagnosed at our hospital while 178 had received prior treatment elsewhere. 56 had stage I disease at diagnosis, 110 had stage II, 46 had stage III and 34 had stage IV. The median age at diagnosis was 49 years (range 25-74 years). The median phase angle score was 5.6 (range = 1.5-8.9). Patients with phase angle < or = 5.6 had a median survival of 23.1 months (95% CI: 14.2 to 31.9; n = 129), while those > 5.6 had 49.9 months (95% CI: 35.6 to 77.8; n = 130); the difference being statistically significant (p = 0.031). Multivariate Cox modeling, after adjusting for stage at diagnosis and prior treatment history found that every one unit increase in phase angle score was associated with a relative risk of 0.82 (95% CI: 0.68 to 0.99, P = 0.041). Stage at diagnosis (p = 0.006) and prior treatment history (p = 0.001) were also predictive of survival independent of each other and phase angle.


This study demonstrates that BIA-derived phase angle is an independent prognostic indicator in patients with breast cancer. Nutritional interventions targeted at improving phase angle could potentially lead to an improved survival in patients with breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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