Availability and utility of body mass index for population-based cancer surveillance

Theresa H Keegan, Gem M. Le, Laura A. McClure, Sally L. Glaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the availability of body height and weight data in the hospital medical record of cancer patients and discuss the utility of the findings to population-based cancer research and the surveillance of overweight and obesity in the United States. Methods: Medical records were reviewed for up to three measures of height and weight for a random sample of 1,739 patients diagnosed (2001-2003) with one of the 12 types of cancer and reported to the population-based Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry of Northern California. Results: About 84% of cancer patients had at least one value of height, 91% had at least one value of weight, and 83% had both values recorded in the medical record such that body mass index (BMI) could be computed. About 60% of height and weight values were recorded within 2 months of cancer diagnosis, with most values (71%) recorded after cancer diagnosis. The availability of BMI varied somewhat by race/ethnicity, cancer site, initial treatment, and hospital characteristics. Conclusions: BMI may be sufficiently available to be included routinely in the population-based cancer registries, and, if so, would be useful for studies of cancer diagnoses and outcomes and permit nationwide surveillance of BMI in a large population-representative cohort of cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Body height
  • Body mass index
  • Body weight
  • Cancer
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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