Background & aims: Taste and smell changes due to chemotherapy May contribute to the high prevalence of overweight in testicular cancer patients (TCPs). This study investigates the taste and smell function, dietary intake, food preference, and body composition in TCPs before, during, and up to 1 year after cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
Methods: Twenty-one consecutive TCPs participated. At baseline TCPs were compared to healthy controls (N = 48). Taste strips and 'Sniffin' Sticks' were used to determine psychophysical taste and smell function. Subjective taste, smell, appetite, and hunger were assessed using a questionnaire. Dietary intake was analyzed using a food frequency questionnaire. Food preference was assessed using food pictures varying in taste (sweet/savoury) and fat or protein content. A Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan was performed to measure whole body composition.
Results: Compared to controls, TCPs had a lower smell threshold (P = 0.045) and lower preference for high fat sweet foods at baseline (P = 0.024). Over time, intra-individual psychophysical taste and smell function was highly variable. The salty taste threshold increased at completion of chemotherapy compared to baseline (P = 0.006). A transient decrease of subjective taste, appetite, and hunger feelings was observed per Chemotherapy cycle. The percentage of fat mass increased during chemotherapy compared to baseline, while the lean mass and bone density decreased (P <0.05).
Conclusions: Coping strategies regarding subjective taste impairment should especially be provided during the first week of each chemotherapy cycle. Since the body composition of TCPs already had changed at Completion of chemotherapy, intervention strategies to limit the impact of cardiovascular risk factors should probably start during treatment.