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Impact of taste and smell training on taste disorders during chemotherapy – TASTE trial

Authors von Grundherr J, Koch B, Grimm D, Salchow J, Valentini L, Hummel T, Bokemeyer C, Stein A, Mann J

Received 27 September 2018

Accepted for publication 13 January 2019

Published 16 May 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 4493—4504

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S188903

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Xueqiong Zhu


Julia von Grundherr,1 Barbara Koch,1 Donata Grimm,2 Jannike Salchow,1 Luzia Valentini,3 Thomas Hummel,4 Carsten Bokemeyer,5 Alexander Stein,1 Julia Mann1

1Department of Oncology, Hematology, BMT with Section Pneumology, Hubertus Wald Tumour Center, University Cancer Center Hamburg, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; 2Department of Gynecology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; 3Department of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Section of Dietetics University of Applied Sciences Neubrandenburg, Neubrandenburg, Germany; 4Smell and Taste Clinic, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany; 5Department of Oncology, Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

Purpose: Two-thirds of cancer patients report taste disorders during and after chemotherapy. Taste disorders impact on nutritional status which is highly relevant for treatment efficacy and overall prognosis. Improvement of taste disorder is of particular importance for cancer patients’ outcomes, thus the TASTE trial was conducted to improve taste disorders with a taste and smell training.
Methods: In this trial, patients undergoing chemotherapy were screened for taste disorders. Subsequently, patients were allocated based on the detection of taste disorders (≤8 taste strips points) to an intervention group with a taste and smell training at baseline and week 3–5 or were only followed up, if no taste disorder was detected (≥9 taste strips points) (non-intervention group). At baseline, all patients received a nutritional counseling. The primary endpoint was the minimal clinically relevant improvement of taste strips score by 2 taste strips points in at least 50% of the patients with taste disorders.
Results: The trial included 62 patients (48 women [77%], 14 male [23%], age 54.5±11.6 years) who had gastrointestinal (n=29), breast (n=31), or lung cancer (n=2). Taste disorders were more frequent in gastrointestinal than in breast cancer patients. Out of 62 patients screened, 30 patients showed taste disorders. The primary endpoint was met with 92% (n=23 of 25) of the patients completing the intervention. In the intervention group, the patients’ taste significantly improved from baseline (median taste strips: 7.0 points) to week 12 (median taste strips: 10.0 points) (P≤0.001). Patients of the non-intervention group who completed the reassessment (n=27 of 32) experienced no change in taste perception in the 3-month follow-up (P=0.897).
Conclusion: Intensified nutritional counseling with taste and smell training may improve taste perception of patients undergoing chemotherapy. A confirmatory randomized trial is planned.

Keywords: cancer patients, taste disorders, taste and smell training, nutritional intervention, nutritional counseling, malnutrition

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