Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1081–1087 | Cite as

A systematic review of dysgeusia induced by cancer therapies

  • Allan J. Hovan
  • P. Michele Williams
  • Peter Stevenson-Moore
  • Yula B. Wahlin
  • Kirsten E. O. Ohrn
  • Linda S. Elting
  • Fred K. L. Spijkervet
  • Michael T. Brennan
  • Dysgeusia Section, Oral Care Study Group, Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC)/International Society of Oral Oncology (ISOO)
Review Article



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.


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.


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.


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.


Dysgeusia Cancer therapy Amifostine 


Conflict of interest statement

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan J. Hovan
    • 1
  • P. Michele Williams
    • 1
  • Peter Stevenson-Moore
    • 2
  • Yula B. Wahlin
    • 3
  • Kirsten E. O. Ohrn
    • 4
  • Linda S. Elting
    • 5
  • Fred K. L. Spijkervet
    • 6
  • Michael T. Brennan
    • 7
  • Dysgeusia Section, Oral Care Study Group, Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC)/International Society of Oral Oncology (ISOO)
  1. 1.Program in Oral Oncology/DentistryBC Cancer AgencyVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of DentistryVancouver General HospitalVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of PaedodonticsUniversity of UmeaUmeaSweden
  4. 4.School or Health and Social StudiesDalarna UniversityFalunSweden
  5. 5.Department of BiostatisticsThe University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Oral & Maxillofacial SurgeryUniversity Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Oral MedicineCarolinas Medical CenterCharlotteUSA

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