Nutritional Support

Many cancer patients will require some form of nutritional support during the course of their illness (Table 1). When patients have an eating difficulty, the first course of action is to assess their oral intake. If patients are able to eat, then they should be given appropriate advice to maximize their oral intake. If patients are unable to swallow enough nourishment to maintain their weight, an enteral tube feed should be considered. The type of tube placed will depend on the following:

1. The anticipated length of time the feed will be required.

2. The physical state of the patient; for example, a nasogastric tube or percutaneous endoscopically placed gastrostomy tube may not be suitable for patients with complete oesophageal obstruction. A jejunostomy tube may be preferred following upper gastrointestinal tract surgery.

3. The wishes of the patient concerning the physical appearance of different tubes and the invasive-ness of the procedure required to place them.

Table 1 Methods of nutritional support

Method

Route

Oral feeding

Oral feeding can be facilitated by

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