A pilot study of radiologic measures of abdominal adiposity: weighty contributors to early pancreatic carcinogenesis worth evaluating?

Jennifer B. Permuth, Jung W. Choi, Dung Tsa Chen, Kun Jiang, Gina DeNicola, Jian Nong Li, Domenico Coppola, Barbara A. Centeno, Anthony Magliocco, Yoganand Balagurunathan, Nipun Merchant, Jose G. Trevino, Daniel Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Intra-abdominal fat is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer (PC), but little is known about its contribution to PC precursors known as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs). Our goal was to evaluate quantitative radiologic measures of abdominal/visceral obesity as possible diagnostic markers of IPMN severity/pathology. Methods: In a cohort of 34 surgically-resected, pathologically-confirmed IPMNs (17 benign; 17 malignant) with preoperative abdominal computed tomography (CT) images, we calculated body mass index (BMI) and four radiologic measures of obesity: total abdominal fat (TAF) area, visceral fat area (VFA), subcutaneous fat area (SFA), and visceral to subcutaneous fat ratio (V/S). Measures were compared between groups using Wilcoxon two-sample exact tests and other metrics. Results: Mean BMI for individuals with malignant IPMNs (28.9 kg/m2) was higher than mean BMI for those with benign IPMNs (25.8 kg/m2) (P=0.045). Mean VFA was higher for patients with malignant IPMNs (199.3 cm2) compared to benign IPMNs (120.4 cm2), P=0.092. V/S was significantly higher (P=0.013) for patients with malignant versus benign IPMNs (1.25 vs. 0.69 cm2), especially among females. The accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive value of V/S in predicting malignant IPMN pathology were 74%, 71%, 76%, 75%, and 72%, respectively. Conclusions: Preliminary findings suggest measures of visceral fat from routine medical images may help predict IPMN pathology, acting as potential noninvasive diagnostic adjuncts for management and targets for intervention that may be more biologically-relevant than BMI. Further investigation of gender-specific associations in larger, prospective IPMN cohorts is warranted to validate and expand upon these observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-73
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Abdominal obesity
  • Computed tomography
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pre-malignant lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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