“There are No Good Things about having a PEG tube, Except it Keeps me Alive”. Nutritional Status and Quality of Life in Long Term Home Enteral Nutrition Post Treatment Head and Neck Cancer Patients. (#278)
Many patients post treatment of head and neck cancer are left with significant side effects that impact nutrition and quality of life. In some of these patients oral intake is no longer an option or is unable to provide adequate nutrition. Nutrition is therefore maintained via a gastrostomy tube. Eight patients post head and neck cancer treatment were recruited for this study from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Home Enteral Nutrition Service. All patients were assessed by a dietitian where nutritional status was assessed with Subjective Global Assessment, hand grip strength, mid arm circumference, tricep skinfolds and mid arm muscle circumference. Quality of life was measured quantitatively via questionnaires and qualitatively via patient interviews. These were analysed by using an inducted thematic analysis approach. All patients were assessed by a dietitian as well nourished with an SGA score ‘A’. Anthropometric measures showed lower muscle and fat mass compared to reference values. Seven out of eight patients had a mid arm muscle circumference of less than the 10th percentile. Qualitative interview revealed many patients felt feeding via a gastrostomy tube “hasn’t done anything really” despite the fact that it is an “inconvenience” and patients “would rather eat”. Overall patients were not malnourished but did display significant reduction in anthropometric measures. Quality of life is impacted but on the whole patients adapted well to adjustments of feeding via a gastrostomy tube at home as it “slowly became part of me”. This shows that in a supportive environment, feeding via gastrostomy tube is an effective method of nutritional delivery in this patient group.