Taste, smell and mouthfeel disturbances in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors treated with tyrosine-kinase inhibitors

Jip M. van Elst, Nikki S. IJzerman, Ron H. J. Mathijssen, Neeltje Steeghs, Anna K. L. Reyners, Jacco J. de Haan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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CONTEXT: Taste, smell, and mouthfeel disturbances are underrated and underreported, but important side effects of anti-cancer medication. These symptoms are associated with a lower quality of life (QoL). The prevalence and the impact of taste, smell, and mouthfeel disturbances on daily life in patients with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) are largely unknown.

OBJECTIVES: This exploratory study assessed the prevalence and type of taste, smell, and mouthfeel disturbances and their impact on daily life and QoL in patients with a GIST treated with a tyrosine-kinase inhibitor (TKI).

METHODS: Patients currently treated with TKIs for GIST completed a standardized questionnaire. The questionnaire addressed changes in taste, smell, and mouthfeel and, if changes occurred, impact on daily life and QoL. Statistics are descriptive.

RESULTS: A total of 65 GIST patients on TKI treatment completed the questionnaire. Of these patients, 79%, 12%, and 9% currently used imatinib, sunitinib, and regorafenib respectively. Taste, smell, and mouthfeel disturbances were reported by 25 (38%), 15 (23%), and 36 (55%) patients respectively. Salty and sweet tastes were mostly affected, respectively in 14 and 13 patients. A dry mouth was experienced by 29 (45%) patients. Taste disturbances were more often reported to have impact on daily life and QoL (80% and 60%) than smell (47% and 31%) and mouthfeel disturbances (47% and 30%).

CONCLUSION: Taste, smell, and mouthfeel disturbances are frequent side effects of TKIs in GIST patients. Daily life and QoL are affected in a considerable number of those patients.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NL7827 (2019-06-25).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2307-2315
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
Early online date2-Nov-2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2022


  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Taste disturbances
  • Smell disturbances
  • Tyrosine-kinase inhibitors
  • Imatinib

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