Taste alterations and cancer treatment

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Abstract

Purpose of review

In this review, we explore issues on the physiology of taste and smell and we critically review recent literature of taste and smell changes and the impact on food preferences throughout the cancer treatment trajectory.

Recent findings

Subjective measurements such as validated questionnaires can be valuable for the clinical setting and many studies describe taste and smell changes by self-report. Because both smell and taste are interrelated, these subjective results are difficult to interpret. Recent studies have looked more specifically at one type of malignancy with a consistent and homogeneous treatment with chemotherapy using objective taste assessment such as electrogustometry, liquid tastants or filter paper strips.

Summary

Taste is a combination of different sensations: smell, texture, temperature and saliva play an important role in determining the overall flavor of food. The mechanism for taste and smell abnormalities in cancer patients treated with systemic therapies remains unclear.

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