Gastrostomy tubes in patients with advanced head and neck cancer

Laryngoscope. 2005 Jan;115(1):44-7. doi: 10.1097/01.mlg.0000150679.60731.bc.


Objectives: To measure the percentage of patients requiring gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes) and the timing of their placement, in addition to studying whether pretreatment variables (T stage, tumor site, N stage) and intratreatment variables (weight loss during treatment) are valid predictors for the need for G-tube placement.

Study design: Retrospective case control study.

Methods: Retrospective review of a prospectively collected database with chart reviews was carried out on 477 patients treated on a regimen of intraarterial cisplatin and concurrent radiation. The likelihood of requiring a G-tube was calculated by studying several independent variables using chi-square analysis and the unpaired t test.

Results: Two hundred twenty (46%) patients had G-tubes placed, with mean time of placement being on day 20 after the initiation of treatment. Patients with T4 disease were statistically more likely to require a G-tube (50% vs. 37%, P < .05). Patients were less likely to require a G-tube when the primary site of tumor involved the larynx or paranasal sinuses (P < .05). There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups with regards to patient age, sex, N stage, and weight changes over the course of treatment. The odds of requiring a G-tube were highest for tumors involving the hypopharynx (80%), oral cavity (52%), and oropharynx (49%).

Conclusions: Although clinical judgment appears to be sufficient for deciding when G-tube placement is warranted in our population, the threshold for placing a tube should be lower in those patients who had a higher likelihood of requiring a G-tube during the course of treatment, including those with advanced disease of the oral cavity, oropharynx, and hypopharynx.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Female
  • Gastrostomy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Neoplasms / therapy*