Self-reported taste and smell changes during cancer chemotherapy

Support Care Cancer. 2008 Mar;16(3):275-83. doi: 10.1007/s00520-007-0319-7. Epub 2007 Aug 21.


Purpose: This study explores the prevalence of self-reported taste and smell changes (TSCs) during chemotherapy and relationships between TSCs and demographic and clinical factors.

Materials and methods: Consecutive patients who had received chemotherapy for > or =6 weeks at 11 outpatient chemotherapy units completed a questionnaire developed for this survey.

Results: Seventy-five percent of the 518 participants reported TSCs, with TSCs more prevalent among women and younger patients. After adjustment for age and sex, we found that patients reporting TSCs more often reported: previous smell changes, less responsibility for cooking, concurrent medication, higher educational levels, and being on sick leave. Participants reporting oral problems, nausea, appetite loss, and depressed mood more frequently reported TSCs. Diagnosis and type of chemotherapy regimen did not predict TSCs.

Conclusion: TSCs were found to be common during cancer chemotherapy and were related to sociodemographic rather than clinical factors. TSCs were also found to be closely related to many other side effects of chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sensation Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Sensation Disorders / epidemiology
  • Smell / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents