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J Support Oncol. 2009 Mar-Apr;7(2):58-65.

Taste and odor abnormalities in cancer patients.

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Department of Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.


Taste and odor abnormalities are major daily concerns for patients with cancer. This review summarizes the common taste and odor disorders of cancer patients and provides insight into their possible causes. Cancer and its therapy, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, may directly alter and damage taste and odor perception.These alterations affect the daily quality of life of these patients and may lead to patient malnutrition and, in severe cases, significant morbidity. Cancer patients experience decreases in sensitivity to taste and odor, as well as unpleasant metallic and bitter sensations. Complaints relating to taste and odor are not usually addressed, as few, if any, effective interventions are available for these problems. Understanding the types and causes of taste and odor dysfunctions will enable researchers and physicians to develop treatments for these conditions and thereby improve patient quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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