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Nutrients. 2013 Jan 22;5(1):267-82. doi: 10.3390/nu5010267.

A national observational study of the prevalence and use of enteral tube feeding, parenteral nutrition and intravenous glucose in cancer patients enrolled in specialized palliative care.

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Division of Surgery, Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital-Huddinge, SE-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.


The use of artificial nutrition remains controversial for cancer patients in palliative care, and its prevalence is largely unknown. We therefore conducted a national study to investigate the prevalence, indications for, and perceived benefit of enteral/parenteral nutrition and intravenous glucose in this patient group. A cross-sectional study was performed within the palliative care research network in Sweden (PANIS), using a web-based survey with 24 questions on demographics, prescribed nutritional treatment, estimated survival and benefit from treatment. Data was received from 32 palliative care units throughout the country, representing 1083 patients with gastrointestinal and gynecological malignancies being the most common diagnoses. Thirteen percent of the patients received enteral/parenteral nutrition or intravenous glucose. Parenteral nutrition (PN) was significantly more common in home care units serving the urban Stockholm region (11%) than in other parts of the country (4%). Weight and appetite loss were the predominant indications for PN, with this treatment deemed beneficial for 75% of the palliative patients. Data show that there was great variation in PN use within the country. PN was predominately initiated when patients had weight and appetite loss but still had oral intake, indicating a use of PN that extends beyond the traditional use for patients with obstruction/semi obstruction.

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