, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1081-1087
Date: 22 May 2010

A systematic review of dysgeusia induced by cancer therapies

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose was to review relevant scientific papers written since 1989 which focused on the prevalence and management of dysgeusia as an oral side effect of cancer treatment.

Methods

Our literature search was limited to English language papers published between 1990 and 2008. A total of 30 papers were reviewed; the results of 26 of these papers were included in the present systematic review. A structured assessment form was used by two reviewers for each paper. Studies were weighted as to the quality of the study design, and treatment recommendations were based on the relative strength of each paper.

Results

A wide range in reported prevalence of dysgeusia was identified with the weighted prevalence from 56–76%, depending on the type of cancer treatment. Attempts to prevent dysgeusia through the prophylactic use of zinc sulfate or amifostine have been of limited benefit. Nutritional counseling may be helpful to some patients in minimizing the symptoms of dysgeusia.

Conclusions

Dysgeusia is a common oral side effect of cancer therapy (radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or combined modality therapy) and often impacts negatively on quality of life. From the current literature, there does not appear to be a predictable way of preventing or treating dysgeusia.