Does feeding tube placement predict for long-term swallowing disability after radiotherapy for head and neck cancer?

Head Neck. 2003 Sep;25(9):741-7. doi: 10.1002/hed.10279.


Purpose: To evaluate feeding tube use.

Materials and methods: Nine hundred thirty-four patients were treated with radiotherapy (RT).

Results: Feeding tubes were placed in 235 patients (25%): 212 patients (22.5%) for acute toxicity, 18 patients (2%) for late effects, and 5 patients (0.5%) for both. Median duration of tube dependence for acute toxicity was 3.8 months. Multivariate analysis revealed that feeding tube placement for acute toxicity was increased with higher RT dose (p <.0001), adjuvant chemotherapy (p =.0002), advanced age (p =.0002), and the presence of neck disease (p =.0045). The risk of a feeding tube for late effects was 2% at 5 years. The likelihood of feeding tube placement for late effects was greater for women (p =.0293), higher RT dose (p =.0345), and primary sites, including the hypopharynx and multiple synchronous primary tumors (p =.0360). Feeding tube placement for late effects was unrelated to tube placement for acute toxicity.

Conclusion: Likelihood of long-term feeding tube dependence was low and unrelated to placement for acute effects.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Deglutition / radiation effects
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Enteral Nutrition* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Probability
  • Time Factors