Medical Oncology

, 36:44 | Cite as

Prospective assessment of taste impairment and nausea during radiotherapy for head and neck cancer

  • Stefania Martini
  • Giuseppe Carlo Iorio
  • Francesca Arcadipane
  • Francesco Olivero
  • Patrick Silvetti
  • Monica Rampino
  • Paolo Garzino Demo
  • Massimo Fasolis
  • Giancarlo Pecorari
  • Mario Airoldi
  • Umberto Ricardi
  • Pierfrancesco FrancoEmail author
Original Paper


Dysgeusia and nausea are common side effects observed in head and neck cancer patients treated with either exclusive radiotherapy or combined modality treatment. The aim of the present study was to prospectively evaluate dysgeusia, during treatment and follow-up, using the chemotherapy-induced taste alteration scale (CiTAS), a metrics based on 18-items exploring three dimensions (quantitative and qualitative changes in taste perception, and diet-related issues) identified through a four-factor analysis: decline in basic taste, discomfort, phantogeusiaparageusia, and general taste alterations. Moreover, we scored, according to Common Toxicity Criteria Adverse Events, nausea and other treatment-related toxicities. Since, ginger is traditionally used to prevent and/or treat nausea and vomiting, we prophylactically employed a ginger-based supplement named Naumix/Naugin (Gamfarma, Milan, Italy), to potentially mitigate both nausea and taste impairment. Using the CiTAS scale, we highlighted a progressive increase in all dysgeusia dimensions, peaking at the VII week of treatment and a subsequent partial late recovery. In particular, we observed a recovery for discomfort, phantogeusiaparageusia, and general taste alterations at 6 months. Grade 2 nausea, observed to be as low as 12.9% potentially due to the use of ginger, peaked at the III week of treatment. Finally, for patients experiencing nausea, the dysgeusia dimension of discomfort was also relevant.


Nausea Dysgeusia Taste impairment Head and neck cancer Radiotherapy Chemotherapy Ginger 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they do not have any conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The present study has been reviewed and approved by the Internal Review Board of the Department of Oncology of the University of Turin at AOU Citta’ della Salute e della Scienza, Turin, Italy.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefania Martini
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Carlo Iorio
    • 1
  • Francesca Arcadipane
    • 2
  • Francesco Olivero
    • 1
  • Patrick Silvetti
    • 1
  • Monica Rampino
    • 2
  • Paolo Garzino Demo
    • 3
  • Massimo Fasolis
    • 3
  • Giancarlo Pecorari
    • 4
  • Mario Airoldi
    • 5
  • Umberto Ricardi
    • 1
  • Pierfrancesco Franco
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Oncology, Radiation OncologyUniversity of Turin School of MedicineTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Oncology, Radiation OncologyAOU Citta’ Della Salute e Della ScienzaTurinItaly
  3. 3.Maxillofacial Surgery Division, Department of Surgical SciencesUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  4. 4.1st ENT Division, Department of Surgical SciencesUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  5. 5.2nd Medical Oncology Division, Department of OncologyAOU Città Della Salute e Della ScienzaTurinItaly

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