Background/Aims Head and neck cancer is associated with significant pathophysiological impacts on body composition, which can create problems such as dehydration, poor nutrition and cachexia. Bioelectrical impedance analysis is a non-invasive body composition assessment tool which is increasingly being used to undertake nutritional assessment and measure clinical outcomes, such as prognosis. To date, no studies have reviewed the use of bioelectrical impedance analysis in head and neck cancer. This study aims to synthesise the different applications of bioelectrical impedance analysis in the clinical assessment of adults affected with advanced head and neck cancer.
Methods A systematic review of literature using five electronic databases (PubMed, Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsychINFO). Search terms were based on ‘head and neck cancer’ and various terms relating to ‘bioelectrical impedance analysis’. Empirical studies reporting the use of the different forms of bioelectrical impedance analysis in advanced head and neck cancer were included.
Results The database search identified 31 articles, of which 17 were included for full review. Bioelectical impedance analysis has been used for several purposes with patients with head and neck cancer, such as prognostication and assessments of hydration, nutrition, mucositis and fatigue. Only three articles focused specifically on the palliative phase of illness, and just one article focused on the clinical application in palliative care (predicting prognosis).
Conclusion Bioelectrical impedance analysis shows promise as a tool to assess body composition and help direct clinical care in head and neck cancer. Little evidence exists, however, for its use within palliative care and this represents an area for future focus to help with clinical decision-making and wider clinical application.
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