PMID: 1192373Nov 1, 1975Paper

Abnormalities of taste sensation in cancer patients

W D DeWys, K Walters


In fifty patients with cancer, subjective and objective correlates of anorexia of malignancy were studied. Decreased taste was reported by 25 patients, and an aversion for meat was reported by 16 patients. The decreased taste symptom correlated with an elevated taste threshold for sweet (sucrose), and the symptom of meat aversion correlated with a lowered taste threshold for bitter (urea). The likelihood of having a taste abnormality increased with increasing extent of disease, but not with histologic type of neoplasm. Patients with an abnormality of taste had an increased incidence of weight loss compared with patients with normal taste, even though many in the latter group had other causes of weight loss. These observations suggest that an abnormality of taste may be one determinant of the anorexia of malignancy. Better understanding of the anorexia in the cancer patient may contribute to the care of the patient.


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