Nutritional support in patients with cancer of the esophagus: Impact on nutritional status, patient compliance to therapy, and survival

F. Bozzetti, L. Cozzaglio, C. Gavazzi, P. Bidoli, G. Bonfanti, F. Montalto, H. S. Parra, M. Valente, R. Zucali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: The multimodal approach to patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma often includes polychemotherapy combined with radiation therapy. Cancer dysphagia and drug-related anorexia, mucositis and vomiting can all lead to malnutrition. The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of the administration of enteral nutrition (EN) on the patient's nutritional, tolerance of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and that final oncological outcome. Methods: Fifty esophageal cancer patients who were to be submitted to chemotherapy (days 1-4 5-fluorouracil (FU) 1 g/m2/day and cisplatin (CDDP) 100 mg/m2/day 1) for two cycles plus radiotherapy (31 Gy) were referred to the Nutrition Support Unit prior to any therapy due to their malnourished status. Twenty-nine dysphagic patients received nutrition via tube (37 kcal/kg/day + 2.0 g proteins/kg/day for 34 days), while 21 others who were not dysphagic were given a standard oral diet (SD). The patients who received EN had a more severe weight loss than the SD patients (16.8% vs 12.8%, P <0.02). Results: The dose of administered EN represented 86% of the planned support, and 70% of the nutritional therapy was administered in the home setting. Administration of EN support resulted in stable body weight and unchanged levels of visceral proteins, while SD patients had a decrease in body weight, total proteins and serum albumin (P <0.01). There was no difference between the two groups in terms of tolerance and response to cancer therapy, suitability for radical resection and median survival (9.5 months). Conclusions: EN in patients with cancer of the esophagus undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy is well tolerated, feasible even in the home setting, prevents further nutritional deterioration and achieves the same oncological results in dysphagic patients as those achieved in non-dysphagic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-686
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Enteral nutrition
  • Nutritional support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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