Gastrostomy Feeding Tube (G-tube or PEG) Placement
I have head and neck cancer. My doctor is recommending a gastrostomy feeding tube (G-tube). Can you discuss how a feeding tube placed can help with nutritional intake during radiation therapy for head and neck cancer?
Head and neck cancers present a unique set of challenges in both the treatment of the disease and in support of the patient afflicted with the cancer.
A major challenge is the nutritional support of the patient. Patients with Head/Neck cancer may be malnourished due to trouble swallowing, or as a result of their surgical resection or radiation therapy. Trouble with swallowing can worsen dehydration and malnutrition and can result in poor wound healing and increased the likelihood of infections. Oral and dental status affects quality of life and oral function, which, in turn, may also affect nutritional intake and general health.
To provide nutrition support of the patient, a gastrostomy tube may be recommended. A gastrostomy tube (may be referred to as a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube if placed in that manner) is a small and safe procedure.
A PEG feeding tube can be used within hours of placement; it can provide nutrition and hydration to help limit weight loss. A feeding tube can be used at meals times or at a convenient schedule, allowing freedom to travel, and generally go about daily life without interruptions.
A Registered Dietitian at the facility that a G-tube is placed can assess and educate you on the nutritional needs, the type of formula, when and how to take it, how to care for the G-tube and also answer any relevant questions you might have.
There are many support groups available for people with head and neck cancers. The links below may provide a good start.
The original question and answer were generously donated by Diana Dyer, MS, RD a cancer survivor, registered dietitian, organic garlic farmer, and the author of "A Dietitian's Cancer Story: Information & Inspiration for Recovery & Healing from a 3-time Cancer Survivor.<
Question and Answer updated by Jyoti Benjamin, MS, RD, CSO, CD on behalf of the ON DPG
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- Taheri MR, Singh H, Duerksen DR. Peritonitis after gastrostomy tube replacement: a case series and review of literature JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2011 Jan;35(1):56-60.
Page updated: January 2014