Side effect management guide


Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Dysgeusia is a term given to alteration in taste sensation. It is a common problem faced by cancer patients which affects their food intake. About 50–70% of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy suffers from altered taste sensation. It can also affect their nutritional status and can cause Anorexia, weight loss and malnutrition which in turn affects their quality of life. Taste alteration in cancer patient can be associated to Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy, Xerostomia, Oral Thrush, Mucositis or because of Medications. Intensity of Taste alteration varies from patient to patient.

1. Keep Your Doctor Informed

As taste alterations does not have any life threatening effect clinician often does not pay adequate attention to it on the other hand for patients it is one of the serious consequences of treatment as it affects their daily lives.Thus, whenever patients feel that they are not able to eat properly or they are losing weight they should inform their healthcare professionals as they can guide them well how to deal with it along with prescribing some supplements and medications.

2. Watch Your Food

Try to consume food that are cold or at room temperature as warm food has stronger aromas. Include frozen fruits like melon, and oranges in diet which may help to alleviate symptoms. It is better to have small portions of meal several times a day and drink water with meals.

Avoid bitter and metallic taste foods and drinks like coffee and prefer bland food.As taste buds in cancer patients may change from day to day it is advisable to keep variety of foods available and have those which are palatable.

One can add spices, sauces, herbs as per need.Use of cinnamon and mint flavored sugarless gums and candies can help in maintaining the taste of mouth.Chew food properly and thoroughly to release more flavors and stimulate saliva production.

3. Consult A Dietitian

As altered taste sensation or unpleasant taste can adversely affect the food intake and nutritional status. it is advisable to consult a dietitian who can suggest appropriate substitute for nutritionally equivalent foods.It may have more impact on long term Dysgeusia and improve patient outcome considerably. Dietitian may take care of your protein and calorie needs and can prescribe some appetite stimulant, vitamins and nutritional supplements.

4. Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene helps food taste better. Brush your teeth, gums and tongue with soft bristles toothbrush before and after meals.choose a mild tasting, non abrasive toothpaste. Rinsing can also help in improving the taste.use of mild solution of water, baking soda and salt before and halfway through a meal is recommended.Regularly consult with your Dentist as oral infections and dental problem can exacerbate altered taste sensation.

5. Psychological Counselling

Apart from having a nutritional relevance, food have important symbolic ,cultural and religious values thus it affects psycho-social aspect of life which may cause mood disorders and hamper social functioning.Therefore Psychological counselling can be taken.Counselling can help patient to understand that taste alterations are not permanent and they are often revert once the treatment is done.Remembering how things tasted and using these memories in meal situations might be helpful. Let someone else cook food for you. Psychological support given by the family members can have a positive effect along with the professional help.

Written by Dr Neha Sharma ( Dentist & Public Health Professional passionate to provide quality health education)


  1. Kalaskar AR (2014), Management of Chemotherapy Induced Dysgeusia: An Important Step Towards Nutritional Rehabilitation. Int J Phys Med Rehabil 2:198. doi 10.4172/2329–9096.1000198

2. Wong,H.M.(2014),oral complication and Management Strategies for Patients Undergoing Cancer Therapy,The Scientific Work Journal,2014,581795,

3. Zabernigg A, Gamper E-M, Giesinger JM, et al. Taste Alterations in Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: A Neglected Side Effect? The Oncologist. 2010;15(8):913–920. doi:10.1634/the oncologist.2009–0333.

4. Murtaza, B., Hichami, A., Khan, A. S., Ghiringhelli, F., & Khan, N. A. (2017). Alteration in Taste Perception in Cancer: Causes and Strategies of Treatment. Frontiers in Physiology, 8, 134.

Raghuveer Surupa

Founder, | Raghuveer is an alumnus of IIM Ranchi, who has worked in pharmaceutical industry for over 5 years across various domains. He is passionate about healthcare and founded Dignite with the sole purpose of improving the day to day lives of cancer patients.

Write A Comment