Background: Percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy (PEG) tubes are commonly used to administer enteral nutrition during head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment. However, the benefits of placing a prophylactic feeding tube (PFT; prior to radiotherapy [RT]) or reactive feeding tube (RFT, after RT initiation) are unclear. We sought to compare survival, body mass trends, and hospitalization rates between strategies. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 11,473 Veterans with stages III–IVC HNC treated with chemoradiotherapy. Patients with PEG tube placement within 30 days prior to treatment initiation (PFT) were compared to all other patients (non-PFT) or patients with PEG tube placement within 3 months after treatment initiation placement (RFT). We compared survival, longitudinal body mass changes, and hospitalization rates for PFT versus non-PFT or RFT patients in propensity score (PS)-matched Cox regression models. Results: 3,186 (28 %) patients received PFT and 8,287 (72 %) were non-PFT, of which 1,874 (23 %) received RFT. After PS-matching, there were no significant differences in overall survival (HR 0.97, 95 % CI 0.92–1.02), HNC-specific survival (HR 0.98, 95 % CI 0.92–1.09), change in BMI (p = 0.24), or hospitalization rates between PFT and non-PFT groups. Significant differences in hospitalization rates between PFT and RFT groups persisted after PS-matching (-0.11 hospitalizations/month), but no differences were found for other outcomes. Conclusion: Timing of PEG tube placement in Veterans with HNC was not associated with any significant survival or body mass advantage. However, patients who received PFT had a lower hospitalization rate than those who received RFT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106216
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Enteral nutrition
  • Retrospective studies
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck
  • Survival
  • Veterans


Dive into the research topics of 'Prophylactic feeding tube placement for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this