Kathy D. Martin

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Document Type

Major Paper


School of Nursing




It is estimated that 54,000 new cases of Head and Neck Cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021 (Cancer Facts and Figures, 2021). Head and Neck cancers represent those that originate from sites which include the nasopharynx, oropharynx, oral cavity and hypo-pharynx. In advanced cases, treatment modalities are combined to include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Expected side effects of treatment can include mucositis, dysgeusia, dysphagia, odynophagia, nausea, vomiting and xerostomia. These toxicities can contribute to dehydration, weight loss and malnutrition. This paper examines the current state of evidence as it pertains to nutritional outcomes for Head and Neck cancer patients receiving concurrent chemotherapy and radiation when prophylactic percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes versus reactive tubes were used. A retrospective chart review was conducted to examine the following research question: Does prophylactic percutaneous gastrostomy tube placement improve nutritional outcomes in patients receiving concurrent chemotherapy and radiation for Head and Neck Cancer patients when compared to those patients with reactive PEG tubes placed. The results of this study identified that despite timing of tube placement, patients in both groups lost weight and showed signs of worsening nutritional outcomes as evidenced by decreased body mass index, total protein, and albumin levels. Advanced practice nurses are in a unique position to develop innovative approaches to enhance nutrition in this patient population. Risk assessment tools, interdisciplinary collaboration and the development of a Head and Neck cancer pre-habilitation clinic may improve nutritional outcomes in the Head and Neck cancer patient receiving cancer treatment.

Included in

Nursing Commons