Specialized Nutritional Support and Cancer
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Over a 7 1/2-year period, 94 cancer patients presenting considerable operative risk were managed by total parenteral nutrition (TPN). All were nutritionally depleted, had obstruction to the gastrointestinal tract or had postoperative complications such as enterocutaneous fistulas, evisceration or intra-abdominal sepsis, which left TPN as the only means of achieving anabolism. When TPN was started preoperatively and continued post-operatively (28 patients--Group 1), no deaths or significant complications occurred. When TPN was first started after life-threatening complications had occurred (58 patients--Group 2), the mortality was 17.2%, so that a high incidence of recovery was achieved. When TPN was used in inoperable cachectic patients (8 patients--Group 3) to enable them to tolerate radiotherapy or chemotherapy, the mortality was 37.5%. This latter group is small, but TPN is worthwhile in selected patients where significant palliation and improvement in the quality of life can occur. With careful technique, risk of sepsis with TPN was no greater than in noncancer patients.