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Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi. 2002 Apr;93(4):64-76.

Taste dysfunction in irradiated patients with head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Taste disorders caused by radiation therapy for head and neck cancer are common. This prospective study of 40 patients with head and neck cancer assessed changes in taste sensations during radiation therapy. The relationship between the time course and the degree of taste disorder was studied. The taste recognition threshold and supra-threshold taste intensity performance for the four basic tastes were measured using the whole-mouth taste method before, during, and after radiation therapy. Bitter taste was affected most. An increase in threshold for sweet taste depended upon whether the tip of tongue was included within the radiation field. The slope of the taste intensity performance did not change during or after radiotherapy. The pattern of salivary dysfunction was different from that of taste dysfunction. The main cause of taste disorders during radiation support the hypothesis that taste dysfunction is due to damage to the taste buds in the radiation field.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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