Gastrostomy tube placement in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy

1/24/2005 R Moore J Hum Nutr Diet, December 1, 2004; 17(6): 578 Background: In head and neck cancer (HNC) patients, the side effects of radiotherapy (RT) often lead to patients being unable to consume adequate nutrition and fluid (Chencharick and Mossman, 1983). Gastrostomy tube placement prior to RT can reduce incidence of severe weight loss and hospitalization during treatment (Beaver et al., 2001). However, gastrostomy tube usage is dependant upon HNC site and area of RT. The aims of the study were to identify the characteristics of those HNC patients who will require gastrostomy tube feeding during RT and utilize these data to target future patients for prophylactic tube placement prior to commencing RT and to write guidelines for the placement of feeding tubes. Method: Data were collected retrospectively regarding diagnosis, surgery and area of RT on all HNC patients who had had a prophylactic gastrostomy placed prior to RT between April 2000 and April 2002. Outcome measurements in terms of utilization of gastrostomy, body weight and nutrition related emergency admissions were recorded. Results: Thirty-five patients had a prophylactic gastrostomy placed [26 male, nine female; mean age 62 (range 26-84) years]. Of these, 26 utilized their tube for feeding or fluids during RT. The sites of radiotherapy were: bilateral RT to the oro- or nasopharynx and neck (20 patients), bilateral RT to the neck (five) and RT to the left oropharynx and neck (one). The mean weight loss during RT in patients who utilized their prophylactic gastrostomy was 3.3 (range [...]