Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2005;9 Suppl 2:S84-91.

Aspects of taste and compliance in patients with cancer.

Author information

Unit of Nutrition and Metabolism, Institute of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon, 1649-028 Lisbon, Portugal.


Taste alterations are common in patients with cancer, and can be the result of the disease itself and/or its treatment(s). Specifically, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to the head and neck area have been shown to induce significant taste changes. Alterations in taste are distressing for patients and can lead to food aversions, a reduction in food intake and nutritional deficits. Ultimately, this can lead to weight loss and, in severe cases, malnutrition, which has been associated with poor patient outcomes, including a negative effect on survival. Dietary counselling and advice tailored to the individual can improve nutritional status, and several effective strategies are available to accommodate taste changes and increase nutritional intake. Oral supplements may provide additional nutritional support when dietary intake is insufficient. The success of supplementation depends, however, on the product acceptability and on patient compliance over the long term. Patient compliance is linked to perceived supplement taste, which may be affected by a variety of taste changes reported by patients both before and after therapy, or as a consequence of disease progression. Supplements which offer a variety of flavours are likely to prove beneficial by helping to prevent taste fatigue. In addition, individuals appear to exhibit distinct preferences for particular flavours at different time points during treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center