Gastrostomy vs nasogastric tube feeding in patients with head and neck cancer during radiotherapy alone or combined chemoradiotherapy

Ainara Soria, Elisa Santacruz, Belén Vega-Piñeiro, María Gión, Javier Molina, María Villamayor, Raquel Mateo, Javier Riveiro, Lia Nattero, José I. Botella-Carretero


Introduction: Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) submitted to radiotherapy alone or combined chemoradiotherapy present a high prevalence of malnutrition at baseline. Prophylactic use of gastrostomy has been suggested for these patients for delivering enteral nutrition. On the other hand, other authors have failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of this measure over nasogastric tube feeding.

Material and methods: We studied 40 patients with HNC with moderate or severe malnutrition who were offered either prophylactic percutaneous gastrostomy before starting oncologic treatment or close follow-up with nutritional counseling with the placement of a nasogastric tube when necessary.

Results: There were no significant changes throughout the study period in weight (p = 0.338), body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.314) or serum proteins (p = 0.729), and these changes showed no differences between the gastrostomy vsnasogastric tube feeding groups. The amount of delivered energy was above the estimated energy needs with both gastrostomy and nasogastric tube feeding, but there were no differences in the total energy provided by enteral nutrition between groups. Patients in the gastrostomy group received enteral nutrition support for a longer period of time (p = 0.007).

Conclusions: Both gastrostomy and nasogastric tube feeding are effective methods of delivering enteral nutrition in patients with HNC submitted to radiotherapy alone or combined chemoradiotherapy, with no differences between them in terms of avoiding further nutritional deterioration.

Palabras clave

Head and neck cancer. Malnutrition. Enteral nutrition. Gastrostomy. Nasogastric tube. Chemoradiotherapy.

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