Tube feeding or hydration is often considered for end-of-life cancer patients despite the negative effects on quality of life. The efficacy of oral nutritional support in this setting is unknown. We conducted a randomized trial to compare the efficacies of an amino acid jelly, Inner Power® (IP), and a liquid enteral product, Ensure Liquid® (EL), in terminally ill cancer patients. We randomly assigned patients to 3 arms: EL, IP, and EL+IP. The primary endpoint was drip infusion in vein (DIV)-free survival, which was defined as the duration from nutritional support initiation to administration of parenteral hydration. Twenty-seven patients were enrolled in the study, of whom 21 were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. The median age of the subjects was 69 yr. There were significant differences between the arms with regard to the median DIV-free survival (0.5, 6.0, and 4.5 days in the EL, IP, and EL + IP arms, respectively; P = 0.05). The median overall survival was 7, 9, and 8 days in the EL, IP, and EL + IP arms, respectively. IP may shorten the duration of parenteral hydration in terminally ill cancer patients and does not affect their survival.
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