During cancer treatment, some children and young adults are unable to maintain good nutrition and a healthy weight despite a balanced diet. In these cases, or when they are too unwell to eat, your care team may suggest a nasogastric tube or a gastronomy feeding device to provide additional nutrition. These deliver nutrients and oral medications through a tube directly into the stomach.
A nasogastric tube is a soft tube that is inserted through the nostril and into the stomach via the oesophagus. This is typically a quick and easy process, although can be uncomfortable during insertion. The tube is held in place in the nostril using a piece of tape and can be used to deliver feed and oral medications into the stomach, even while asleep. Your care team will discuss how to take care of the tube at home including instructions on what to do if the tube comes out. The tube will also need medical attention to change every few weeks.
Gastronomy feeding devices
Gastronomy devices, also known as percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes, are often used as a safer, discreet and more comfortable option compared to a nasogastric tube if tube feeding is needed over a longer period of time. They involve a tube being inserted directly into the stomach, rather than through the nostril and oesophagus, which is preferable for children and young adults receiving treatment for head and neck cancers.