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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2011 Oct;42(4):548-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.01.009. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Prophylactic percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy in patients with advanced head and neck tumors treated by combined chemoradiotherapy.

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Department of Gastro-Nutrition, Val d'Aurelle Cancer Institute, Montpellier, France.



Few studies have evaluated outcomes of combined chemoradiotherapy for Stage III-IV head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in terms of the use of nutritional support by means of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG).


To compare nutritional status and treatment interruption because of acute toxicity in patients with advanced head and neck tumors who were treated by combined chemoradiotherapy and received or did not receive prophylactic PEG tubes.


This was a retrospective study that evaluated data obtained from a cancer center in Montpellier, France. A total of 139 consecutive patients treated for Stage III-IV head and neck squamous cell carcinoma from January 1, 1998 to June 30, 2003 were evaluated in terms of nutritional status before and after therapy, treatment interruption because of toxicity, and duration of hospitalization.


Seventy-eight of the 139 patients (58%) did not receive prophylactic PEG feeding, and 61 patients (44%) received PEG feeding. Pretreatment nutritional status was worse in the PEG group. Compared with the initial nutritional status, nutritional status at the end of treatment was unchanged in the PEG group and much worse in the group that did not receive the PEG (P<0.05). Cumulative incidence of treatment interruption because of toxicity was significantly lower in the PEG group than in the no-PEG group (100 and 236 days of interruption, respectively, P=0.03) and hospitalization was significantly shorter (P=0.003).


Prophylactic PEG sustains nutritional status and reduces the cumulative incidence of treatment interruption caused by toxicity and duration of hospitalization. A randomized study is warranted to validate these results.

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