Tube Feeding for Cancer Patients

Today I am gonna talk about a topic where most of the patients face social stigma. That’s tube feeding. When cancer patients struggle with nutrition, a feeding tube can be a solution.

Tube feeding is nothing but a liquid form of nourishment that’s delivered to your body through a flexible tube.

Tube Feeding for Cancer Patients

The nutrients within the tube feed are similar to what you would get from normal food, and are also digested in the same way. Tube feed contains all the nutrients you need on a daily basis, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Read more – Physical impacts of cancer and it’s treatment?

Benefits of treatment may include:

  • Slowing disease progression
  • Sustaining life by avoiding cachexia related deaths
  • Reducing disability or improving health
  • Relieving symptoms

Common uses of feeding tube

Providing nutrition- Food, in liquid form, can be provided through a feeding tube. Tube feeding, or enteral nutrition, can be given through the tube to provide carbohydrates, protein, and fats to the body without requiring the patient to swallow or chew.

Providing fluids – Water can be provided through a feeding tube to keep the patient hydrated without needing to give IV fluids.

Providing medication- Medications, including many pills and tablets can be given through a feeding tube. But I have had problems with tablets, so they may require grinding and some capsules may need to be opened, but if the particles are small enough most medications can be blended with water and administered through a feeding tube.

Decompressing the stomach- Some types of feeding tubes, the temporary ones in particular, can be connected to suction to gently remove gas from the stomach to reduce distention and bloating.

Different types of feeding tubes

1. Nasogastric Tube: This is the thin tube that goes in through your nose and down your throat into your stomach. I suggest you go for this if you need feeding for 2-4 weeks. It doesn’t affect your ability to breathe or speak.

2. Nasojejunal Tube (NJT): It is similar to the nasogastric tube but the tip goes into the second part of the small bowel. I would suggest a NJT:

a. When your stomach cannot empty properly

b. To get past a blockage in the small bowel

c. After pancreatic surgery

3. Gastrostomy Tube: It is directly inserted into the stomach through a small incision in the abdominal area. It is usually for long-term uses (more than six weeks). Examples for this could be RIG or PEG.

4. Jejunostomy Tube: It is inserted through the stomach into the small intestine or directly into the small intestine through a small incision in the abdominal area. Similar to gastrostomy tubes, it is used for long-term use (more than six weeks). For example, JEJ OR PEGJ.

Your dietitian might also change the type of feeding you are having depending on your daily calorie requirement.

Many patients may face social stigma, this is a method necessary to acquire the required nutrients when they are not in a state to physically take it out of their will.

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