A patient’s sense of taste is not affected by chemotherapy treatment, according to a Deakin University systematic review of 31 research papers.
The review looked at whether and how chemotherapy influences sensitivity to the taste qualities of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness. It also considered the intensity of the taste qualities, the like or dislike of food and appetite.
The researchers found there was little consistent evidence of a reduction in sensitivity to sweetness, sourness or saltiness although, in two studies, there was a trend of decreased sensitivity to bitter taste for up to 18 weeks after the start of chemotherapy treatment.
With regard to taste intensity, the research found little evidence of the influence of chemotherapy on perceived intensity of sweetness, saltiness or bitterness but there was a trend towards greater intensity of sour taste after chemotherapy.
The combined results of studies into patients’ attitudes of food during chemotherapy treatment found that there was a general trend of decreased liking of foods after chemotherapy commenced.