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TASTE DYSFUNCTION AND CANCER: CLINICIANS AND PATIENT PERSPECTIVES AND EXPERIENCES

Abstract
Among many unpleasant side effects of cancer treatments, taste alteration is one of the most common complaints among cancer patients with a prevalence rate up to 93% 1–6. Altered taste function is often accompanied with other treatment related side-effects impacting the gastrointestinal system, with high co-occurrence rates reported for loss of appetite7 oral problems2,7,8, and other food related problems including food aversions and malnutrition9–11. Thus, altered taste perception reduces the overall quality of life of cancer patients due to its impacts on physical and psychosocial dimensions2,5,12–15. Despite the high prevalence and adverse effects of altered taste function, clinicians often overlook taste-related symptoms as they are non-life threatening16. There is limited understanding of clinicians’ familiarity and knowledge of taste alterations and how clinicians engage with patients regarding symptoms of taste loss. Identifying the relationship between taste functions and gastrointestinal symptoms in cancer patients during and after treatments may be necessary for identifying patients who are at greater risk for nutritional impact symptoms, gastrointestinal problems, quality of life, and treatment outcome. I utilized self-made online questionnaires to explore gaps in clinicians’ knowledge and current educational resources on taste and taste alterations, utilization of current taste assessment techniques in clinical setting, clinicians’ perspective and experiences with taste alterations and taste management strategies and the relationship of taste alterations and gastrointestinal symptoms during and after treatments. Findings revealed that there is a knowledge gap regarding taste, flavor, and classifications of different taste disorders among clinicians as well as a lack in standardized, validated and easily administrable taste assessment tools. However, clinicians are motivated in supporting taste alteration management in cancer patients to improve nutritional intake, reduce emotional distress, and to enhance the overall quality of life of patients, although more than half of the participants felt somewhat challenged in suggesting taste management strategies. Dietary counselling, drinking plenty of fluid during meal and chewing the food slowly and thoroughly are a few strategies that both patients and clinicians indicated to be successful in managing taste alterations. Further studies are needed to evaluate these taste management strategies to implement evidence-based taste management strategies.
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campusfive
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dissertation
Date
2024-02-01
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