Importance of sensory alterations for cancer patients with taste changes
The Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer published a new study, showing that taste and smell alterations are common in patients receiving systemic antitumor therapy and that nutritional support specifically designed to better address sensory alterations is appreciated in these patients.
Common in patients with cancer undergoing systemic anti-cancer treatment, taste and smell alterations may develop throughout the course of cancer (before and during) and last up to one year after treatment, with up to 70% of cancer patients experiencing taste changes during chemotherapy and radiotherapy.1
Sensory alterations in advanced cancer have been found to contribute to a substantial decrease in caloric intake, increasing the risk of malnutrition. Sensory changes have also been associated with poorer social-emotional function and overall quality of life in cancer. Nutritional interventions in cancer, such as the use of Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS), can improve overall energy and protein intake, overall body weight, muscle mass and aspects of quality of life.
In line with previous findings, this new study shows that:
- Overall, 60% of patients who participated in this study reported taste alterations, and taste alterations were reported to adversely impact on patients' daily life.
- Patients with taste alterations demonstrated a larger variation in overall liking score per ONS flavour compared to patients without taste alterations.
- Sensory adapted flavours appear to be appreciated by patients with taste alterations
It is important that healthcare professionals consider the presence of taste alterations in clinical practice, particularly when selecting an ONS and offering flavour options to patients with cancer. Both taste and flavour offering are important factors which can influence ONS compliance.2, 3
- Spotten LE, et al. Subjective and objective taste and smell changes in cancer. Ann Oncol. 2017 May 1;28(5):969-984.
- Ruxton C. Compliance with ONS and the Role of Taste. CN Focus. 2014; (Vol. 6, No. 2).
- Hubbard GP, et al. A systematic review of compliance to oral nutritional supplements. Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):293-312.