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Taste Changes, Oral Status & Eating Interest in Head and Neck and Breast Cancer Patients Treated with Chemotherapy: Clinical Taste/Flavor Evaluation

In Progress
December 18, 2017

Principal Investigator: Joel B. Epstein, MD

Source: Starting Dec. 2017 – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles


The perception of flavor is frequently altered in cancer patients, impacting quality of life and affecting dietary intake, with potential metabolic and nutritional effects. While taste/flavor changes are very common during active cancer care, they persist in large numbers of cancer survivors affecting quality of life beyond active cancer treatment. The CNC is planning a broad survey of taste function and nutritional outcomes, which provides an opportunity to add a subsite study of measures of taste and flavor and impact of oral function upon nutrition, leveraging the planned survey with clinical testing. We propose a pilot study in both head and neck and breast cancer patients to assess taste/ flavor change due to cancer therapy, employing chemosensory testing and patient report of taste change. Significant advances have occurred in the study of taste biology, but there has been very limited study in oncology. We propose objective testing, along with patient reported outcomes, to further investigate taste function. We will complete nutrition assessment for correlation with taste measures. The goal is to provide pilot data for subsequent grant applications to assess the natural history of taste change over time, and to define a testing protocol to facilitate progress in prevention and management of taste/flavor change in cancer patients during therapy and throughout survivorship to guide product development.