Eating and weight changes following chemoradiation therapy for advanced head and neck cancer

Lisa A. Newman*, Francisco Vieira, Valerie Schwiezer, Sandeep Samant, Thomas Murry, Gayle Woodson, Parvesh Kumar, K. Thomas Robbins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the functional outcomes of weight loss and eating following a targeted chemoradiation protocol consisting of a selective supradose of intra-arterial cisplatin (150 mg/m2 per week for 4 weeks) with parenteral sodium thiosulfate and external-beam irradiation (1.8-2.0 Gy per fraction per day for 35 days). Subjects and Design: Forty-seven patients with advanced head and neck cancer treated with a targeted chemoradiation protocol were monitored for weight and eating status before treatment and as long as 18 months after treatment. Results: A statistically significant weight loss (P<.001) occurred during the targeted chemoradiation protocol, with a mean weight ratio of 90% of the starting weight. The ability to eat also declined, with an increase in reported swallowing difficulties and a need for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tubes from 4 (9%) to 12 (26%). There were no significant changes in weight after the initial weight loss. Tumor stage and nodal involvement had no effect on weight loss. At the start of treatment, 18 patients (38%) reported normal eating and 4 (8%) required a feeding tube. By 18 months after treatment, 41 (87%) were eating normally, 34 (72%) reported normal eating, and 6 (13%) required a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube. Conclusions: Patients undergoing a targeted chemoradiation protocol for head and neck cancer lost about 10% of their pretreatment weight and had a decline in eating ability. Difficulty swallowing during the treatment may be due to adverse effects such as mucositis and nausea. By 18 months after therapy, most were able to eat normally and maintain their weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-592
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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