Agnieszka Michael, Senior Lecturer / Consultant Medical Oncologist, University of Surrey
Clinical trial locations
Bowel blockage is a common complication in patients with ovarian, peritoneal and bowel cancer as these cancers can grow on the bowel surface. Unfortunately this type of blockage often occurs on many parts of the bowel and therefore surgery is frequently not possible and chemotherapy is often not effective.
If this occurs, eating and drinking often leads to abdominal pain, vomiting and feeling very unwell. If the blockage is complete, eating is not possible. If the blockage is partial (the most common occurrence) then patients are often able to swallow small amounts of liquid.
Currently the only method of feeding and providing nutrition is to give food through the veins through a long line called a PICC line. This is called parenteral nutrition (PN). PN is a complex process that can only be set up in specialist centres and requires extensive training. It often means a long stay in hospital before patients are allowed to go home. There is also a risk of infection from the PICC line.
About the trial
An elemental diet is a type of a drink that is already digested so that the body does not need to do any work. It contains energy, broken-down proteins, vitamins and minerals. Elemental drinks are almost totally absorbed in the upper part of the bowel and therefore could be absorbed even in patients who have bowel blockage lower down in the gut.
The study will investigate if an elemental diet can offer an alternative to PN, and if it can be used as an acceptable form of nutrition in hospital and at home. The study will assess if patients like the drinks, and if symptoms of pain and vomiting are not made worse. The study will also establish if this form of nutrition improves the quality of life of patients at this difficult time.
Who can take part?
This study is for those who have been diagnosed with bowel obstruction (blockage) caused by cancer and the surgeons do not feel that the blockage can be relieved by surgery.