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Gustatory Impairment in Patients Undergoing Head and Neck Irradiation

Authors

  • Natasha Mirza MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
    • Dr. Natasha Mirza, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, 5 Silverstein, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
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  • Mitchell Machtay MD,

    1. Department of Radiation Oncology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Pamela A. Devine MSN, RN,

    1. Department of Radiation Oncology, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Andrea Troxel ScD,

    1. Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Soo K. Abboud MD,

    1. From the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • Richard L. Doty PhD

    1. Smell and Taste Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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  • This research was supported by a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Competitive Pilot Project Fund.

Abstract

Objectives: To determine whether radiation alters taste function and structure.

Research Design: Prospective, longitudinal study.

Methodology: Testing prior to starting radiation, and 2 weeks, 2 months, and 6 months after completing radiation.

Results: Relative to controls, patients had lower taste identification test scores for bitter, salty, and sour tastes. Sour taste also showed a significant group-by-time interaction (P = .03). Taste pores were decreased in the irradiated group, with a significant group-by-time interaction (P = .03).

Conclusion: Head and neck cancer patients have decreased taste function, and radiation adversely affected sour taste and taste pores.

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