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An audit designed to assess the need for planned pretreatment PEG placement in patients with stage III & stage IV oral cancer

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Nutritional support is a crucial and challenging part of treatment for patients with oral cancer. The aim of this audit was to assess the need for planned pretreatment percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) placement in this group of patients and to assess diet consistency as a predictor of poor outcomes. Method: 

This was a retrospective study of 77 consecutive patients with stage III and IV squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity treated by radical surgery and post-operative radiotherapy between January 1999 and December 2001. Information was taken from dietitians’ records. Patients were divided into two groups according to survival: group 1 (40 patients) comprised nonsurvivors and group 2 (37 patients), survivors. All patients were enterally fed post-operatively. After approximately 10 days, swallowing was assessed and, if deemed competent, patients progressed to a fluid diet. Tube feeding was gradually reduced and then stopped when oral nutrition was sufficient to maintain weight. Patients progressed to soft diet as they were able. During radiotherapy, liquid diet or tube feeding was instigated as required. Results: 

In group 1, 65% required tube feeding for less than 30 days (mean 17 days), 20% for 31–100 days (mean 51 days) and 15% for over 100 days (mean 231 days). The overall mean length of tube feeding was 97 days. Thirty-eight per cent of nonsurvivors developed recurrence and went on to subsequent operations necessitating further tube feeding for an average of 129 days. In group 2, 70% were tube fed for less than 30 days (mean 11 days), 14% for between 31–100 days (mean 43 days), and 17% for more than 100 days. The overall mean length of tube feeding was 72 days. The dietary consistency of nonsurvivors was worse than survivors throughout treatment. At first presentation, only 37% of nonsurvivors managed a normal diet, 8% managed a near normal diet and 3% required tube feeding, whereas 48% of survivors managed a normal diet and 16% a near normal diet. At 1 year, there was a significant difference between the two groups’ diets. No patients in group 1 managed a normal or near normal diet, whilst 62% required tube feeding. In group 2, 12 and 32% managed a normal and near normal diet, respectively and only 9% required or wished to remain on tube feeding to supplement their diet. Five per cent of patients in this group remained nil by mouth due to fistula. Conclusion: 

Deciding whether a patient has a naso-gastric tube, PEG or radiologically inserted gastrostomy tube placed can be a difficult decision. However, a gastrostomy should be considered prior to treatment in patients whose diet is of poor consistency at presentation or who have an inadequate oral intake to maintain or increase weight and in those with a fistula, expected slow recovery of swallowing function, for example, pharyngeal tumour or undergoing brachytherapy or chemoradiotherapy.
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Document Type: Abstract

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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