A study to see if using a feeding tube at home after surgery for food pipe or stomach cancer helps recovery

Cancer type:

Oesophageal cancer
Stomach cancer





This study looked into continuing to use a feeding tube into the small bowel for 6 weeks after major surgery to treat stomach cancer or food pipe cancer.

More about this trial

If you have cancer of the food pipe or cancer of the stomach, and have major surgery to treat this, you are likely to be fed afterwards through a tube into your small bowel. This is so your body can get the nutrition it needs until it is safe for you to eat and drink again. This type of feeding tube is called a jejunostomy.

This tube usually stays in place until you see your specialist about 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery. You stop using it before you leave hospital to help you get back to normal as quickly as possible. But it is common for people to lose weight while they are recovering from surgery and it takes time to adjust to a change in eating patterns.

Researchers in this study looked at continuing jejunostomy tube feeds for 6 weeks at home.

The aims of this study were to find out if

  • Having tube feeds at home stops weight loss
  • Having tube feeding at home is possible and what patients and their carers thought about it.
  • It is possible to design a larger, national study

Summary of results

The study team found that continuing tube feeding at home was safe, possible and acceptable to patients and their carers.

54 people took part in this randomised study. After going home from hospital,

  • 26 had nightly feeds through the tube for 6 weeks.
  • 28 had a feeding tube in place but didn’t have feeds. This is usual care for this group of patients. Doctors call this the control group.

At the end of the 6 weeks and again at 3 months and 6 months the researchers looked at

  • How much everyone weighed
  • Body mass index Open a glossary item
  • Upper arm measurements and how strong peoples grip was

They had the results for 41 people. The researchers found that

  • At 6 weeks, people in the control group had lost on average 3.9kg more than people in the tube feeding group
  • At 3 months and 6 months people in the tube feeding group stayed the same weight and weighed more than people in the control group
  • At 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months, people in the tube feeding group had bigger upper arm measurements and better grip strength than the control group

The study team interviewed 15 people who took part in the study. The main findings from the interviews were that most people

  • Coped well with having tube feeding at home
  • Thought tube feeding was useful
  • Looked after the area where the tube goes into the tummy (stoma) well
  • Followed the feeding routine correctly

Although in some cases having a tube was troublesome and disrupted sleep.

The study team concluded that tube feeding at home helped people to put on weight after surgery for food pipe or stomach cancer. But they suggest that for home feeding to become part of usual care, it needs to be looked at in a larger study to find out more about cost.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the study team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Mr David Bowrey
Miss Melanie Baker

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 11005

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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