Gastrostomy dependency trends over 15 years of patients at a large tertiary referral center following the insertion of a prophylactic gastrostomy for chemoradiation for mucosal head and neck cancer

Head and Neck Cancer

Fraser A, et al. Asia Pac J Clin Oncol 2020.


AIM: The routine use of prophylactic percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes for nutrition support during radical chemoradiation for head and neck cancer has been suggested to result in PEG dependency. This research aimed to determine the rates of gastrostomy dependency at the Calvary Mater Newcastle (CMN) where PEGs are routinely used and to identify potentially modifiable risk factors.

METHODS: All patients with head and neck cancer planned for curative chemoradiation with a prophylactic PEG inserted were included in this review. Medical records of 250 patients treated between 2000 and 2015 were examined.

RESULTS: Overall, eight patients (3%) were unable to wean. At 12 months following treatment, 16 patients (6%) still required PEG tubes for feeding. A greater T extent (T4 or synchronous head and neck tumors) and number of days Nil By Mouth (NBM) remained as significant independent risk factors for PEG dependency at 12 months (Textent OR 6.96 P < .001; NBM OR 1.01 P = .004) and overall (Textent OR8.04 P = .02; NBM OR1.01 P = .001). Associations with NBM were investigated, which demonstrated that patients had less NBM days with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) (β-13.3, P = .007) and seeing a speech pathologist during treatment (β-11.9, P = .026). More NBM days were associated with tumors with greater T extent (β+22; P < .001).

CONCLUSION: The routine use of prophylactic PEGs has not resulted in significant rates of PEG dependency at the CMN. Seeing a speech pathologist during treatment and IMRT may decrease time NBM, which was identified as a potentially modifiable risk factor for PEG dependency.